UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Pharmacology & Therapeutics

Title: Safe Opioid Use in Renal Failure

Keywords: opioid, renal failure, dialysis (PubMed Search)

Posted: 7/6/2020 by Ashley Martinelli (Updated: 8/13/2022)
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Pain management can be challenging in patients with acute or chronic renal failure.  Opioid medications should always be used with caution, but some are safer than others.  Morphine and codeine specifically should be avoided in these patients due to accumulation of active metabolites that can prolong the duration of effect and adverse events. 

Opioid

Renal Failure Impacts

Renal Failure Recommendation

Dialysis Recommendation

Morphine

Active metabolites accumulate

no

no

Codeine

Active metabolites accumulate

no

no

Hydromorphone

Minimal active metabolites

yes

yes

Oxycodone

Minimal active metabolites

yes

yes

Fentanyl

No active metabolites

yes

yes

Methadone

Active metabolites are inactive

yes

yes

 

References

Dean M. Opioids in renal failure and dialysis patients. J Pain Symptom Mange 2004;28:497-504.