Morphine-based cardiac anesthesia provides superior early recovery compared with fentanyl in elective cardiac surgery patients

Glenn S. Murphy, Joseph W. Szokol, Jesse H. Marymont, Steven B. Greenberg, Michael J. Avram, Jeffery S. Vender, Saadia S. Sherwani, Margarita Nisman, Victoria Doroski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Experimental and clinical data suggest that morphine possesses unique cardioprotective and antiinflammatory properties. In this clinical investigation, we sought to determine whether the choice of intraoperative opioid (morphine or fentanyl) influences early recovery after cardiac surgery. METHODS: Ninety patients undergoing cardiac surgery with cardiopulmonary bypass were randomized to receive either morphine (40 mg) or fentanyl (600 μg) as part of a standardized opioid-isoflurane anesthetic. Quality of recovery was assessed using the QoR-40 questionnaire administered preoperatively and daily on postoperative days 1-3. During the first three postoperative days, pain was measured using a 100-mm visual analog scale, and the use of IV and oral pain medications (morphine or acetaminophen/hydrocodone) was quantified. Hemodynamic variables, duration of tracheal intubation, postoperative febrile reactions, organ morbidities, and intensive care unit (ICU) and hospital length of stay were evaluated. RESULTS: Compared with patients given fentanyl, those receiving morphine had higher global QoR-40 scores on postoperative days 1 (173 vs 160, P < 0.0001), 2 (174 vs 164, P < 0.0001), and 3 (177 vs 167, P < 0.001). Differences between the groups were observed in the QoR-40 dimensions of emotional state, physical comfort, and pain (all P < 0.01-0.0001). Postoperative visual analog scale pain scores, use of pain medication in the ICU and surgical ward, and postoperative febrile reactions were reduced significantly in the morphine group (all P < 0.01). No differences between the groups were noted in duration of tracheal intubation, ICU and hospital length of stay, or postoperative complications. CONCLUSIONS: In patients undergoing elective cardiac surgery with cardiopulmonary bypass, postoperative quality-of-life measures and pain control during recovery were enhanced when morphine (40 mg) was administered intraoperatively as part of a balanced anesthetic technique compared with fentanyl.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)311-319
Number of pages9
JournalAnesthesia and analgesia
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine

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