Time course and role of morphine dose and concentration in intrathecal granuloma formation in dogs: A combined magnetic resonance imaging and histopathology investigation

Jeffrey W. Allen, Kjersti A. Horais, Nicolle A. Tozier, Kirsten Wegner, Jacqueline A. Corbeil, Robert F. Mattrey, Steven S. Rossi, Tony L. Yaksh

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59 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Intrathecal morphine infusion leads to intrathecal granulomas. In dogs, the authors examined time course of granuloma formation and the role of concentration in granuloma development. METHODS: Dogs were prepared with lumbar intrathecal catheters and vest-mounted pumps. To define the time course of granuloma formation, serial magnetic resonance imaging was performed in animals receiving 10 or 31 days of morphine infusion (12.5 mg/ml at 40 μl/h). At these times, morphine was removed from the infusate, and further magnetic resonance images were acquired over 14-35 additional days. To assess dose versus concentration, dogs received 28-day infusions of vehicle, 12 mg morphine/day as 12.5 mg/ml at 40 μl/h, or 1.5 mg/ml at 334 μl/h (12 mg/day) for 28 days. Additional dogs received 3 mg/day as 12.5 mg/ml at 10 μl/h. RESULTS: Serial magnetic resonance images in dogs receiving morphine (12.5 mg/ml at 40 μl/h) revealed pericatheter-enhancing tissues as early as 3 days with a prominent signal by 10 days. Removal of morphine reduced the mass volume within 7 days. At a fixed infusion rate, the incidence of granuloma formation with the continuous intrathecal infusion of morphine ranged from 0 in vehicle-treated dogs to 100% in dogs treated with 12.5 mg/ml at 40 μl/h (12 mg/day). Infusion of 12 mg/day at 1.5 mg/ml (334 μl/h) resulted in granuloma in one of four animals. The authors found that infusion of morphine in different concentrations at a fixed rate resulted in a dose-dependent increase in concentration, with the granuloma-producing, dose-yielding lumbar cerebrospinal fluid morphine concentrations around 40 μg/ml. CONCLUSIONS: Serial magnetic resonance imaging showed a rapid formation and regression of the masses initiated by intrathecal morphine infusion. These masses are dependent on local concentration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)581-589
Number of pages9
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2006


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine

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