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Opioids for chronic pain management in patients with dialysis-dependent kidney failure.

Tobin DG, Lockwood MB, Kimmel PL, Dember LM, Eneanya ND, Jhamb M, Nolin TD, Becker WC, Fischer MJ, HOPE Consortium. Opioids for chronic pain management in patients with dialysis-dependent kidney failure. Nature reviews. Nephrology. 2022 Feb 1; 18(2):113-128.

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Chronic pain is highly prevalent among adults treated with maintenance haemodialysis (HD) and has profound negative effects. Over four decades, research has demonstrated that 50-80% of adult patients treated with HD report having pain. Half of patients with HD-dependent kidney failure (HDKF) have chronic moderate-to-severe pain, which is similar to the burden of pain in patients with cancer. However, pain management in patients with HDKF is often ineffective as most patients report that their pain is inadequately treated. Opioid analgesics are prescribed more frequently for patients receiving HD than for individuals in the general population with chronic pain, and are associated with increased morbidity, mortality and health-care resource use. Furthermore, current opioid prescribing patterns are frequently inconsistent with guideline-recommended care. Evidence for the effectiveness of opioids in pain management in general, and in patients with HDKF specifically, is lacking. Nonetheless, long-term opioid therapy has a role in the treatment of some patients when used selectively, carefully and combined with an ongoing assessment of risks and benefits. Here, we provide a comprehensive overview of the use of opioid therapy in patients with HDKF and chronic pain, including a discussion of buprenorphine, which has potential as an analgesic option for patients receiving HD owing to its unique pharmacological properties.

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