Initial Pain Management in Pediatric Pancreatitis: Opioid vs. Non-Opioid (PATIENCE)

  • End date
    Nov 26, 2023
  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    Boston Children's Hospital
Updated on 26 April 2022


This will be a phase 2, single-center, unblinded randomized controlled pilot trial of two arms comparing opioid-sparing analgesia to the current Boston Children's Hospital institutional practice which has been reported to predominantly include administration of opioids as a first-line analgesic to pediatric patients who present to the emergency department with a diagnosis of acute pancreatitis (AP). This is a pilot trial for which many outcomes have not previously been studied in the pediatric AP population. The focus of this investigation will be to investigate the magnitude and variability of effect sizes for designing a future multi-center, double-blinded randomized controlled trial.


Acute pancreatitis (AP) is the most common pancreatic disease of childhood with an increasing incidence estimated at 13.2 cases in 100,000 children per year. Given the dearth of pediatric literature, most pediatric providers often rely on diagnostic, prognostic and treatment guidelines that have been derived from adults. This is problematic because adult therapeutic guidelines fail to consider the unique age-related responses and requirements of childhood. Pain management is one of the cornerstones in the treatment of pancreatitis, with abdominal pain being the most common presenting symptom of AP. Currently, there are no data on optimal pain management in pediatric AP. Older guidelines suggest that the "use of intravenous patient-controlled analgesia (PCA) is advantageous" as it allows the patient to self-administer opioids and strike a balance between analgesia and side effects. This requires cognitive maturity to understand how to use PCA and poses challenges for younger children, particularly infants and toddlers, as well as pediatric patients with developmental delay. It is particularly concerning that greater than 94% of surveyed pediatric practitioners would use morphine or related opioids as a first-line therapy in children with AP especially when there have been no studies examining the benefits/risks of opioid vs non-opioid analgesics or opioid-sparing therapies in pediatric AP. Furthermore, we recently reported a retrospective analysis demonstrating that opioids are prescribed far more frequently either alone or in combination with non-opioids (70%) than non-opioid alternatives alone (30%). Amongst all types of analgesia prescribed to children who presented to the BCH emergency department (ED) with acute pancreatitis, morphine was the most common. Further research in this area is imperative, particularly given the recent opioid epidemic. From a pediatric perspective, it has been demonstrated that adolescents are amongst those at risk for opioid abuse, thus there is an urgent need to determine whether opioids are necessary for the management of pain in this vulnerable population with AP.

Condition Acute Pancreatitis
Treatment ketorolac, Opioid
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT04291599
SponsorBoston Children's Hospital
Last Modified on26 April 2022


Yes No Not Sure

Inclusion Criteria

Patients who present to the ED and are admitted to BCH with a diagnosis of acute pancreatitis or an acute bout of chronic pancreatitis based on INSPPIRE14 Criteria (Appendix 1)
Age ≤21 years
Patient weight ≥8 kg

Exclusion Criteria

Allergy to morphine (and hydromorphone) or aspirin/NSAID
History of renal or hepatic insufficiency
History of peptic ulceration
History of bleeding diathesis
Pregnant females
Patients who have a documented history of substance abuse disorder or those who use opioids chronically
Patients admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU)
Patients admitted via transfer to BCH from another hospital (ED or inpatient)
Patients who received intravenous opioid patient-controlled analgesia (PCA) in transit or during their ED admission
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