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Papers of the Week

2020 Mar 17

Ann Palliat Med

Why equianalgesic tables are only part of the answer to equianalgesia.



Opioids are an important tool in the management of acute and chronic (cancer and non-cancer) pain. Pain and palliative care practitioners are frequently called upon to switch a patient from one opioid regimen to a different regimen either to gain better pain control, to minimize opioid-related adverse effects, to overcome opioid tolerance, or due to a change in patient status. To this end, equianalgesic tables have been published to guide practitioners in making these calculations. Despite being built on the best data available, equianalgesic tables do not tell the whole story, requiring the practitioner to thoroughly consider the patient's situation, and unknown variables. A five-step process is presented in this article that espouse a safe and effective way to switch from one opioid regimen to another. Directions for the future include better refinement of the data that informs the equianalgesic table, and perhaps inclusion of opioid utility data.