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Procedural analgesia for implantable port placement


BACKGROUND: Pain in cancer patients is often related to oncologic therapies and diagnostic procedures. The placement of fully implantable venous access systems is a very common procedure in oncology patients. Local anaesthesia is the method most commonly used to overcome pain related to this surgical procedure, but the local anaesthetic may be unable to completely eradicate all pain. This study investigates the effectiveness and safety of fentanyl buccal tablet (FBT), administered by OraVescent® technology, in reducing procedural pain related to the placement of indwelling central venous access systems (Ports) in opioid-naïve cancer patients.

METHODS: Inpatients who required an indwelling vascular access (Port) were preoperatively assessed with a self-assessment questionnaire on anxiety and pain. A 100 μg FBT was administered 10 min before preparation of the operating field. A self-assessment scale for pain experienced during the procedure was administered at the end of the procedure. Vital signs and the presence of any side effects or bothersome symptoms were monitored during the procedure, at the end, and 4 h later.

RESULTS: From October 2012 to June 2014, 65 patients were enrolled in the study. A total of 61 (93.9 %) patients perceived no or a little pain during the procedure. Four patients (6.2 %) reported a lot of pain. No patient reported very severe pain. This data is significant in terms of the lower than expected presence of pain (Fisher test p = 0.0018) as assessed in our previous experience without procedural analgesia. The most common side effects of FBT was drowsiness, experienced by 28 patients at the end of the procedure (43.1 %), significantly reduced (p < 0.01) to 8 patients after 4 h (12.5 %). Nausea was present in 6 cases at the end of the procedure (9.2 %) and in 7 cases 4 h later (10.9 %). Vomiting was present in 3 cases at the end (4.7 %) and in 2 other patients after 4 h (7.8 %). No significant change of vital parameters was observed between the baseline and the subsequent measurements in all patients studied.

CONCLUSIONS: The significant improvement in the number of patients experiencing little or no pain, accompanied by a lower number of non-severe side effects, suggests that FBT is a valid, practical and safe method of procedural analgesia. It will be necessary to perform further studies, taking into account the need for standard antiemetic pre-medication to minimise the incidence of nausea and vomiting.


Bortolussi, R., Zotti, P., Matovic, M., Morabito, A., Bertuzzi, C., Caserta, M., Fabiani, F., Fracasso, A., Santantonio, C., Zanier, C., Roscetti, A., Polesel, J., Gussetti, D., Bedin, S., Colussi, A.M. and Fantin, D. (2015) A phase II study on the efficacy and safety of procedural analgesia with fentanyl buccal tablet in cancer patients for the placement of indwelling central venous access systems. Supportive Care in Cancer. September 16th. .

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