BACKGROUND - Acute chest syndrome (ACS) represents a serious morbidity and often fatal complication in patients with sickle cell disease. Painful episodes which require hospitalization are most often treated with opioids, which may then influence the development of ACS. Nalbuphine is a parenteral opioid which effectively treats pain and may cause less ACS.
PROCEDURE - This retrospective chart review documented 988 admissions for painful episodes at 2 institutions and recorded the incidence of ACS and opioid used.
RESULTS - At the Children's Hospital in St Louis, Missouri, the incidence of ACS in patients treated with morphine alone was 10.8% versus at the Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri, the incidence was 2.1% for patients treated solely with nalbuphine.
CONCLUSIONS - When nalbuphine is used alone as the single parenteral opioid agent to treat painful episodes in patients with sickle cell disease, the incidence of ACS is less than when compared with other opioids used to treat pain.