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February 1934


Author Affiliations

From the Department of Surgery, Tulane University School of Medicine.

Arch Surg. 1934;28(2):406-416. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1934.01170140186010

Even earlier than 1500 B. C. opium was used in the treatment of diseases of the gastro-intestinal tract. In the Papyrus Ebers,1 the following prescription was suggested "to clear out the body and to get rid of the excrement in the body of a person":

At the present time morphine is undoubtedly one of the most valuable drugs which the surgeon has in his armamentarium, and without it or some of the other derivatives of opium, postoperative convalescence would be associated with prolonged and unnecessary suffering. Many surgeons, however, use morphine sparingly because of its supposed inhibiting effect on the intestinal motility and because of the fear of producing or increasing an already existing ileus.

Because of the constipating effect of morphine, which has been considered due to an inhibition of intestinal activity, the drug has been considered by most surgeons almost a specific in limiting the spread of