Demand-only patient-controlled analgesia for treatment of acute vaso-occlusive pain in sickle cell disease

Veronica Carullo, Kerry Morrone, Meagan Weiss, Jaeun Choi, Qi Gao, Shantanu Pisharoty, Karen Moody, Deepa Manwani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a chronic illness that is associated with frequent admissions for vaso-occlusive episodes (VOE). Opioids are frequently utilized in pain management, but dosing is often provider dependent. Opioids cause both short-term and long-term side effects, so the minimal effective dose is desired. This study examined demand-only patient-controlled analgesia (PCA) in pediatric patients. Methods: A new clinical practice guideline (CPG) for a single institution was implemented, which eliminated basal infusion dosing for PCAs on hospital admission. The primary aim of this retrospective study was to evaluate length of stay (LOS) before and after implementation of a CPG of demand-only PCA and, in a selected subpopulation, addition of short-term methadone. Secondary aims included opioid utilization, acute chest syndrome (ACS), and hypoxia. Inclusion criteria included SCD, ≤21 years of age, uncomplicated VOE admission, and ≥ 3 and ≤ 8 hospital admissions for SCD pain control within one calendar year. Results: LOS decreased postintervention (7.2 ± 5.1 vs 4.5 ± 3.8 days, P < 0.001). Mean total opioid utilization in morphine equivalents mg/kg markedly decreased between the cohorts (13.3 ± 33.8 vs 3.6 ± 3.0, P < 0.001). ACS (21.9% vs 2.8%, P = 0.004) and hypoxia (28% vs 6.9%, P< 0.001) decreased significantly as well. Conclusion: Bolus PCA dosing of opioids resulted in decreased LOS and reductions in opioid utilization, hypoxia, and ACS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere29665
JournalPediatric Blood and Cancer
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2022


  • Acute chest syndrome
  • hypoxia
  • length of stay
  • opioids
  • patient-controlled analgesia
  • sickle cell disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Hematology
  • Oncology


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