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Methadone use in children and young adults at a cancer center: A retrospective study

Doralina L. Anghelescu, MD, Lane G. Faughnan, RN, Gisele M. Hankins, RN, Deborah A. Ward, PharmD, Linda L. Oakes, RN, CNS

Abstract


Objective: To augment the literature on methadone applications in pediatric oncology, the authors reviewed the use of methadone at a pediatric cancer center over a 5-year period.
Design and setting: Forty-one patients received methadone for inpatient or outpatient pain management. The authors retrospectively reviewed their demographic characteristics, diagnoses, type of pain (nociceptive, neuropathic, or mixed) and causes of pain, and the indications, dose regimens, adverse effects, and outcomes of methadone treatment.
Results: There were four types of clinical uses for methadone in 41 patients (10 patients had two): nociceptive pain unresponsive to other opioids (17 patients, 33.3 percent), neuropathic pain (20 patients, 39.2 percent), facilitation of weaning from opioids (11 patients, 21.6 percent), and end-of-life pain management (3 patients, 5.9 percent). The mean age of the 24 males (58.5 percent) and 17 females (41.5 percent) at the start of treatment was 15.7 years (range, 0.6-23 years). The most common diagnoses were leukemia (n = 10, 24.4 percent), osteosarcoma (n= 7, 17.0 percent), and rhabdomyosarcoma (n = 5, 12.2 percent). The causes of pain were bone marrow transplant (n = 13, 31.7 percent), amputation (n = 6, 14.6 percent), chemotherapy (n = 5, 12.2 percent), tumor (n = 5, 12.2 percent), limb-sparing surgery (n = 4, 9.8 percent), and other (n = 8, 19.5 percent). Efficacy was assessed at the end (or after 6 months) of methadone treatment. For many patients (43.1 percent), methadone showed efficacy in achieving the purpose for which it was prescribed, including reduction of nociceptive or neuropathic pain and prevention of opioid withdrawal. Sedation was the most common side effect (24.4 percent).
Conclusions: Methadone was effective for pediatric patients with neuropathic pain or nociceptive pain unresponsive to other opioids, and it effectively prevented opioid withdrawal.


Keywords


methadone, pain, analgesia, withdrawal, weaning, neuropathic, pediatric cancer

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References


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5055/jom.2011.0076

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