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Analgesics in critical illness 

Analgesics in critical illness
Analgesics in critical illness

Mayur B. Patel

and Pratik P. Pandharipande

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date: 21 May 2022

Analgesia is a critical component of intensive care unit (ICU) care. Accordingly, understanding the mechanism, physiological consequences, and assessment of pain is important when caring for the ICU patient. Non-pharmacological approaches should be attempted before supplementing analgesia with pharmacological agents. Pharmacologically-based therapies are divided into regional and systemic therapies. Regional analgesic therapies target specific areas of the body while limiting the systemic effects of intravenous analgesics, but at the risk of invasiveness, local anaesthetic toxicity, and infection of in-dwelling catheters. Systemic analgesic therapy is comprised of two main categories—non-opioids and opioids. Typically, non-opioid analgesics are used as adjunctive therapies and consist of agents such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, gabapentinoids, ketamine, or α‎2 agonists. Opioid analgesia in the ICU is commonly infusion-based using fentanyl, hydromorphone, morphine, or recently, remifentanil.

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