Morphine in Plasma and Cerebrospinal Fluid of Patients Addicted to Opiates Undergoing Surgery: High-performance Liquid Chromatography Method

Mohammad Ali Haghbin, Zia Navidi, Cesar R Romero-Leguizamon, Mohammad Shabani


Background: The prevalence of opium addiction among Iranians is considerable. Since endogenous opioid systems may be altered as a consequence of addiction, it is very important to determine the plasma and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) levels of morphine in Iranian patients addicted to opiates who will undergo surgery.

Methods: We obtained CSF and plasma samples from 50 volunteers with an established opioid addiction pattern. Samples were analyzed using high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). Additionally, frequency of nausea and vomiting, baseline heart rate (BHR), and systolic blood pressure (SBP) were recorded within the surgery and postoperatively during a 10-min interval.

Findings: 84% of participants were men with a median age of 39.08 years. Mean score of body mass index (BMI) was 23.30 and most of the participants (46%) used opium in its traditional inhaled form. A higher concentration of morphine in blood was found in comparison with CSF (P < 0.001) in relation to the way of use. However, no statistically significant differences were found in relation to the type of addictive substance. No other association was found between the levels of morphine and the clinical characteristics of the patients. Moreover, results revealed no difference between hemodynamic-related data with blood and CSF level in opium-dependent patients.

Conclusion: Quantification of plasma and CSF morphine, both immediately before initiation of surgery and subsequently on recovery room, showed that although clinical efficacy of systemic morphine was poor in addicted patients, it had no effect on patients’ hemodynamic variable and following complications after surgery.


Morphine; Cerebrospinal fluid; Opium addiction; Postoperative pain

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