Physiological disposition of I.V. morphine in sheep

P. A. Sloan, L. E. Mather, C. F. Mclean, A. J. Rutten, R. L. Nation, R. W. Milne, W. B. Runciman, A. A. Somogyi

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21 Citations (Scopus)


In a crossover design study we have measured the total body and regional clearances of morphine. Thirteen experiments were performed in four conscious sheep that had been prepared previously with appropriate intravascular cannulae. Morphine (as sulphate pentahydrate) was infused i.v. at 2.5, 5, 10 and 20 mg h-1 to produce constant blood concentrations. Morphine (base) concentrations were measured in blood, urine and tissues with a specific HPLC method. The mean (SEM) total body clearance of morphine was 1.63 (0.21) litre min-1; this comprised 1.01 (0.10) litre min-1 clearance by the liver and 0.55 (0.06) litre min-1 by the kidneys. There was no evidence of dose-dependent clearance or significant extraction of morphine by the lungs, brain, heart, gut or hindquarters at any dose. The kidney clearance of morphine was greater than the 0.21 (0.06) litre min-1 renal clearance determined from the product of the mean total body clearance and the 12.3 (2.4)% of the administered dose recovered as unmetabolized morphine from 48 h urine collection (P <0.05). It was concluded that the liver and kidneys account for the majority of morphine clearance, and that the kidneys both excrete and metabolize morphine.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)378-386
Number of pages9
JournalBritish Journal of Anaesthesia
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished or Issued - Oct 1991
Externally publishedYes


  • Analgesics: morphine
  • Drug metabolism: morphine
  • Kidney
  • Liver
  • Pharmacokinetics: morphine
  • Regional clearance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine

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