In this section
analgesia (PCA) is a form of pain relief which is controlled by the
patient (your child). A PCA is a machine which allows your
child to administer the analgesia (pain relief medicine) when they
need it. The most common pain medicine used in the PCA is morphine.
Morphine is given through a plastic tube in a vein (also called an
intravenous drip or IV).
This is a safe technique because the machine used to deliver
the pain medicine is programmed according to your child's
weight. This lowers the risk of your child
over-dosing on the morphine.
Your child is monitored
and reviewed by the Children's Pain Management Services (CPMS) team
every day, to assess if their pain is well controlled and to ensure that there are no side effects. Side effects such as nausea,
vomiting and itch may occur in people taking morphine and can be treated.
The PCA has a handset with a
button for your child to press when they have pain. Only your child is to press the button. When the button is pressed,
the pain medicine (morphine) is delivered through the IV.
The medicine can take five to 10 minutes to work, so for safety reasons
there is a waiting time of five minutes before the button will
allow delivery of another dose of pain medicine.
The patient is often the
best person to judge when and how much pain they have and how much pain medicine they need to make them feel better. The
benefit of having a PCA is that the pain medicine is available
immediately. If your child does not need pain relief then they will not be given medication unnecessarily.
By using the PCA, your
child should be able to deep breathe, cough and move around in the
bed without too much discomfort. Most children aged over
seven years can understand how to use a PCA.
As your child recovers, the pain will
become less and they will use their PCA less. The CPMS will stop the PCA after discussion with
you and your child and will prescribe another pain medicine that can be taken by
mouth, e.g. tablets or a syrup. The length of time a PCA is needed depends on your child
and the surgery they have had, but is usually about two to five days.
Your child may need to take
pain medicine by mouth for the first few days, until they are
comfortably moving and sleeping well. If your child needs
strong pain medicine at home you will be given information on what
pain medicine to give. The CPMS nurse will contact you by phone
to help you manage your child's pain.
If you want more information,
Developed by the RCH Dept of Anaesthesia
and Pain Management with the Children's Pain Management Service.
First published January 2009. Updated August 2015.
This information is intended to support, not replace, discussion with your doctor or healthcare professionals. The authors of these consumer health information handouts have made a considerable effort to ensure the information is accurate, up to date and easy to understand. The Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne accepts no responsibility for any inaccuracies, information perceived as misleading, or the success of any treatment regimen detailed in these handouts. Information contained in the handouts is updated regularly and therefore you should always check you are referring to the most recent version of the handout. The onus is on you, the user, to ensure that you have downloaded the most up-to-date version of a consumer health information handout.