Chronic treatment with opioids in cancer patients with chronic intestinal obstruction is hazardous, as uncontrolled constipation may result in definitive bowel obstruction. Intermittent use of opioids adjusted for fluctuating pain levels may enable patients to take the lowest opioid doses that will have sufficient effect, with a consequently lower risk of intestinal side effects. Methadone has many pharmacokinetic characteristics that fit it for use in this clinical situation. In two patients with recurrent episodes of bowel obstruction, methadone used at low doses and at flexible intervals regulated by the patients according to their pain level avoided the occurrence of new episodes of intestinal obstruction. Oral patient-controlled analgesia with methadone may be a simple, safe and cheap method of treating patients with pain associated with subtotal intestinal obstruction.
- Bowel obstruction
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