Autologous donor skin harvested for transplantation is a common procedure in patients with burns, and patients often feel more pain at the donor site than is justified by the extent of trauma. Topical morphine gels have been thought to have an effect on peripheral opioid receptors by creating antinociceptive and anti-inflammatory effects, which could potentially reduce the systemic use of morphine-like substances and their adverse effects.
We therefore did a paired, randomised, double-blind placebo study to investigate the effect of morphine gel and placebo on dual donor sites that had been harvested in 13 patients. Pain was measured on a visual analogue scale (VAS) 15 times in a total of 5 days.
The mean (SD) VAS was 1.6 (2.3) for all sites, 1.5 (2.2) for morphine, and 2.0 (2.5) for placebo. The pain relieving effects of morphine gel were not significantly better than placebo.
The assessment of pain at donor sites is subjective, and more systematic and objective studies are needed.
2016. Vol. 4, 5-9 p.