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scientific articles

Hydroxyurea and acute painful crises in sickle cell anemia: effects on hospital length of stay and opioid utilization during hospitalization, outpatient acute care contacts, and at home

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source: Journal of Pain and Symptom Management

year: 2010

authors: Ballas SK, Bauserman RL, McCarthy WF, Castro OL, Smith WR, Waclawiw MA


Exploratory findings from the randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, multicenter study of hydroxyurea (MSH) in sickle cell anemia (SS). Recurrent acute painful crises may be mild, moderate, or severe in nature and often require treatment at home, in acute care facilities as outpatients, and in the hospital with oral and/or parenteral opioids.
The objectives of this study were to determine the effects of hydroxyurea (HU) on length of stay (LOS) in hospital and opioid utilization during hospitalization, outpatient acute care contacts, and at home.
Data from patient diaries, follow-up visit forms, and medical contact forms for the 299 patients enrolled in the MSH were analyzed. Types and dosages of at home, acute care, and in-hospital analgesic usage were explored descriptively.
At-home analgesics were used on 40% of diary days and 80% of two-week follow-up periods, with oxycodone and codeine the most frequently used. Responders to HU used analgesics on fewer days. During hospitalization, 96% were treated with parenteral opioids, with meperidine the most frequently used; oxycodone was the most commonly used oral medication. The average LOS for responders to HU was about two days less than for other groups, and their cumulative time hospitalized during the trial was significantly less than for nonresponders or placebo groups (P<0.022). They also had the lowest doses of parenteral opioids during acute care crises (P=0.015).
Beneficial effects of HU include shortening the duration of hospitalization because of acute painful episodes and reducing the net amount of opioid utilization.

organization: Jefferson Medical College, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia

DOI: 10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2010.03.020

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