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Buccal opioids for breakthrough pain in children with life-limiting conditions receiving end-of-life care

Journal title
International journal of palliative nursing
Publication year
Norman, C.; Maynard, L.

BACKGROUND: Many palliative care health settings that care for children and young people (CYP) at the end of life use the buccal mucosa as a route of drug administration to manage the sudden onset of symptoms, such as seizures, agitation and dyspnoea, and for breakthrough pain management. The buccal route is a minimally invasive method that delivers fast symptom relief and is useful for those with swallowing impairment or reduced enteral absorption. AIM: This paper reports on a small retrospective study involving 26 CYP who received end-of-life care between January and December 2017 to review the advantages and disadvantages of using buccal opioids for breakthrough pain relief with a focus on diamorphine as the preferred opioid. METHOD: A retrospective case note review. FINDINGS: This paper shares the clinical practice experiences from one UK organisation of care for CYP at the end of their lives and contributes to the growing body of pharmacological evidence. CONCLUSION: Buccal opioids, specifically buccal diamorphine, are an effective strategy to treat breakthrough pain or dyspnoea in CYP.

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