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Patient Controlled Analgesia (PCA)

PCA is a method of administering intravenous ( IV) opioids via an infusion pump which is used in hospitals for the management of sever postoperative and other acute pains.  The computer software in the pump allows the patient to titrate the dose of opioid delivered to their analgesic requirement within pre-set limits as defined by the medical staff.  The patient activates delivery of a small dose (bolus) of opioid by pressing a hand held button. The machine is set with a short "lock-out" time during which no drug will be delivered, even if the button is pressed.  This makes the system safe so that if the patient presses the button excessively frequently, the risk of overdose is avoided.  

PCA has been shown to be a safe and effective method of analgesia when used by clinical staff who understand the technique, and who have immediate back-up advice available.

















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Pain Service Website, Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Webmaster Dr J G de Courcy, Consultant in Pain Medicine and Anaesthesia
email: pain.webmaster[at]

Page updated 19/02/2016