Morphine Infusion

Morphine Infusion

A morphine infusion is a pain relieving medicine your child receives continuously through a pump. Tamariki (children) usually have it after an operation. They can also have it for other reasons.


Key points about morphine infusions

  • a morphine infusion will help manage your child's pain
  • the healthcare team will check regularly to make sure your child is safe and comfortable

What is a morphine infusion?

A morphine infusion is pain relief medicine. It’s given into a vein continuously through a pump. Tamariki usually have it after an operation. Sometimes they can have it to manage pain from a medical condition or injury.

How does a morphine infusion work?

For pain relief after surgery, your child will have the morphine infusion at the end of the operation. A nurse will connect the morphine infusion pump to your child's intravenous line (IV line). An IV line is a thin, plastic tube, also called a cannula - that sits in your child's vein. This allows medicine to go directly into their vein so it can work quickly

See the KidsHealth page on IV lines to learn more about how they work

How safe is a morphine infusion?

A morphine infusion is very safe. The healthcare team will set the morphine pump before they attach it to your child's IV line. 

The pump has safety features that stop it giving too much medicine. The pump is locked with a key. This prevents anyone from changing these settings.

Who will make sure the morphine infusion is working?

The healthcare team will regularly check the following while your child is having a morphine infusion:

  • breathing
  • heart rate
  • oxygen levels
  • comfort level 

The healthcare team can adjust your child’s pain relief if needed. 

Will there be any side effects from the morphine infusion?

Morphine can cause the following: 

  • sleepiness
  • sick feeling (nausea)
  • constipation
  • itch 
  • slow breathing

The healthcare team will watch closely for side effects. Adjusting the dose or giving other medicines can help.

Can my child become addicted to morphine after having a morphine infusion?

No. Tamariki, using morphine for a short time for pain control, will not become addicted.

How long will my child need a morphine infusion? 

Tamariki usually have a morphine infusion for 2 to 5 days after an operation. Some tamariki may need it for longer. The healthcare team will check your child's pain relief regularly. Once your child is eating normally, they can receive pain relief by mouth. The healthcare team will turn off the pump when your child no longer needs it.


Starship Foundation and the Paediatric Society of New Zealand acknowledge the cooperation of the Starship Children’s Hospital, Auckland District Health Board in making the content on this page available to patients and families.

This page last reviewed 18 December 2023.

Call Healthline on 0800 611 116 any time of the day or night for free health advice when you need it