Naloxegol to Prevent Constipation in ICU Adults Receiving Opioids: A Randomized Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Pilot Trial

Matthew S. Duprey, Harmony Allison, Erik Garpestad, Andrew M. Riselli, Anthony Faugno, Eric Anketell, John W. Devlin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background. Constipation is frequent in critically ill adults receiving opioids. Naloxegol (N), a peripherally acting mu-receptor antagonist (PAMORA), may reduce constipation. The objective of this trial was to evaluate the efficacy and safety of N to prevent constipation in ICU adults receiving opioids. Methods and Patients. In this single-center, double-blind, randomized trial, adults admitted to a medical ICU receiving IV opioids (≥100 mcg fentanyl/day), and not having any of 17 exclusion criteria, were randomized to N (25 mg) or placebo (P) daily randomized to receive N (25mg) or placebo (P) and docusate 100 mg twice daily until ICU discharge, 10 days, or diarrhea (≥3 spontaneous bowel movement (SBM)/24 hours) or a serious adverse event related to study medication. A 4-step laxative protocol was initiated when there was no SBM ≥3 days. Results. Only 318 (20.6%) of the 1542 screened adults during the 1/17-10/19 enrolment period met all inclusion criteria. Of these, only 19/381 (4.9%) met all eligibility criteria. After 7 consent refusals, 12 patients were randomized. The study was stopped early due to enrolment futility. The N (n = 6) and P (n = 6) groups were similar. The time to first SBM (N 41.4 ± 31.7 vs. P 32.5 ± 25.4 hours, P = 0.56) was similar. The maximal daily abdominal pressure was significantly lower in the N group (N 10 ± 4 vs. P 13 ± 5, P = 0.002). The median (IQR) daily SOFA scores were higher in N (N 7 (4, 8) vs. P 4 (3, 5), P < 0.001). Laxative protocol use was similar (N 83.3% vs. P 66.6%; P = 0.51). Diarrhea prevalence was high but similar (N 66.6% vs. P 66.6%; P = 1.0). No patient experienced opioid withdrawal. Conclusions. Important recruitment challenges exist for ICU trials evaluating the use of PAMORAs for constipation prevention. Despite being underpowered, our results suggest time to first SBM with naloxegol, if different than P, may be small. The effect of naloxegol on abdominal pressure, SOFA, and the interaction between the two requires further research.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7541378
JournalCritical Care Research and Practice
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Matthew S. Duprey et al.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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