Diagnostic epidural opioid technique

J. S. Ellis, Somayaji Ramamurthy, Lawrence S Schoenfeld, J. Hoffman, N. E. Walsh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Diagnostic epidural blocks were performed on 27 chronic pain patients sequentially using saline, fentanyl, and lidocaine solution. The patients were diveded into one of four groups based on their response to the epidural solutions: placebo response group - pain relief with placebo solutions; fentanyl response group - pain relief with epidural fentanyl; lidocaine response group (LRG) - pain relief with lidocaine but not fentanyl; and no response group - no pain relief with any of the solutions used. The four groups were compared on the basis of age, sex, site of pain, duration of pain, narcotic use, pain assessment index, and workmen's compensation claims. The comparisons resulted in the conclusion that LRG patients had a much longer average duration of pain than the other groups. On the basis of the information gathered, it was theorized that, despite their response to epidural lidocaine, LRG patients may actually be a group of operant pain patients. Their failure to receive analgesia from epidural fentanyl may be a learned response such that they associate any sensory input from the affected area as painful. If follow-up studies support these findings, then the diagnostic opioid technique may be a more sensitive tool in diagnosing chronic pain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)211-215
Number of pages5
JournalClinical Journal of Pain
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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