Incidence of opioid-induced constipation in the pediatric intensive care unit: A descriptive cohort study.

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DOI: 10.1002/jpen.2592


BACKGROUND: Opioid-induced constipation (OIC) is a well-known phenomenon, although there is limited literature evaluating the incidence of OIC in children admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU). The primary aim of this study was to determine the incidence of OIC in the PICU and to determine if it is associated with a higher rate of morbidities or prolonged length of stay (LOS).

METHODS: We conducted a single-center retrospective chart review from July 1, 2014, to June 30, 2015, in our PICU. We included all patients aged ≤18 years with a PICU stay of ≥96 h who received opioids during their admission. Data were collected on the frequency of bowel movements and characteristics of opioid administration. Demographic and clinical data were obtained from Virtual Pediatric Systems, LLC.

RESULTS: Of the 94 patients who met the study criteria, 39.4% developed constipation. These patients tended to be older (P = 0.06) and were noted to weigh more (P = 0.03). There was no significant difference in the total or median daily doses, duration of opioid treatment, or mode of administration. Constipation rates did not differ by the severity of illness. There was a higher incidence of constipation in the patients who were admitted for neurological issues or after trauma or abdominal surgery (P = 0.002). Patients with constipation had a longer LOS than patients without constipation, but the difference was not statistically significant.

CONCLUSION: These results indicate that opioid use is not the sole risk factor for constipation in the PICU setting.

Journal Title

JPEN. Journal of parenteral and enteral nutrition





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MeSH Keywords

Humans; Child; Analgesics, Opioid; Cohort Studies; Opioid-Induced Constipation; Retrospective Studies; Constipation; Incidence; Intensive Care Units, Pediatric


critical care; drug‐nutrient interactions; gastroenterology; pediatrics

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