Introduction: In lab-based studies, buprenorphine appears to have a ceiling effect on respiratory depression but not on analgesia. There is increasing evidence in adult patients that buprenorphine has no ceiling effect on analgesia or side effects. The aim of this study was to investigate the efficacy and adverse effects of buprenorphine versus morphine in paediatric acute pain.

Methods: A systematic review of five databases was performed until May 2018. Only randomised controlled trials were eligible for inclusion. The outcomes of interest included pain, respiratory depression, nausea, sedation, dizziness, and pruritus.

Results: Four randomized controlled trials (n = 195) were included. The only outcome measuring analgesic efficacy was time to breakthrough analgesia. Buprenorphine had a significant increase in time to breakthrough analgesia by 114.98 minutes compared to morphine (95% CI = 42.94 to 187.01; I2 = 0; p = 0.002). There was no significant difference in the rates of adverse effects.

Conclusions: Buprenorphine provided a longer duration of analgesia than morphine. This in combination with its unique sublingual preparation could prove particularly advantageous in the paediatric population. The studies included are likely underpowered to detect differences in the incidence of adverse effects; therefore, the same precautions should be taken as with any other opioid.


study, systematic review and meta-analysis, paediatric, acute pain, buprenorphine, morphine

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