The role of dextromethorphan in pain control

Avi A. Weinbroum, Valery Rudick, Gideon Paret, Ron Ben-Abraham

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

Purpose: To review the clinical benefits of dextromethorphan (DM) in pain management, describe its neuropharmacological properties. Source: A Medline search was made for experimental and clinical data on DM use from 1967 to date using keywords nociception, acute and chronic pain control, N-methyl-D-aspartate, antagonists, dextromethorphan. Principle findings: The 930 DM citations mostly described its antitussive, metabolic and toxicological aspects, animal studies and its possible role in minimizing post-brain ischemia complications in humans. The use of DM in acute pain revealed eight original studies involving 443 patients, as well as two preliminary reports and our own unpublished data on 513 patients. Most of the 956 patients had general anesthesia. Eight studies (154 patients) and one case report dealt with chronic pain management. This N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonist binds to receptor sites in the spinal cord and central nervous system, thereby blocking the generation of central acute and chronic pain sensations arising from peripheral nociceptive stimuli and enabling reduction in the amount of analgesics required for pain control. DM attenuated the sensation of acute pain at doses of 30-90 mg, without major side effects, and reduced the amount of analgesics in 73% of the postoperative DM-treated patients. Studies in secondary pain models in healthy volunteers and in various types of chronic pain showed DM to be associated with unsatisfactory pain relief. Conclusion: DM attenuates acute pain sensation with tolerable side effects. Its availability in oral form bestow advantages over other NMDA antagonists.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)585-596
Number of pages12
JournalCanadian Journal of Anaesthesia
Volume47
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - 2000

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