Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 15, Issue 10, pp 1155–1161 | Cite as

Oral cryotherapy reduces mucositis and opioid use after myeloablative therapy—a randomized controlled trial

  • Anncarin Svanberg
  • Gunnar Birgegård
  • Kerstin Öhrn
Original Article



Mucositis is a major complication in myeloablative therapy, which often necessitates advanced pharmacological pain treatment, including i.v. opioids. Attempts to prevent oral mucositis have included oral cryotherapy, which has been shown to reduce mucositis, but there is a lack of knowledge concerning the effect of oral cryotherapy on opioid use by reducing the mucositis for patients treated with myeloablative therapy before bone marrow transplantation (BMT).


The aim of the present study was to evaluate if oral cryotherapy could delay or alleviate the development of mucositis and thereby reduce the number of days with i.v. opioids among patients who receive myeloablative therapy before BMT.

Materials and methods

Eighty patients 18 years and older, scheduled for BMT, were included consecutively and randomised to oral cryotherapy or standard oral care. A stratified randomisation was used with regard to type of transplantation. Intensity of pain, severity of mucositis and use of opioids were recorded using pain visual analogue scale (VAS) scores, mucositis index scores and medical and nursing charts.


This study showed that patients receiving oral cryotherapy had less pronounced mucositis and significantly fewer days with i.v. opioids than the control group. In the autologous setting, cryotherapy patients also needed significantly lower total dose of opioids.


Oral cryotherapy is an effective and well-tolerated therapy to alleviate mucositis and consequently reduce the number of days with i.v. opioids among patients treated with myeloablative therapy before BMT.


Oral cryotherapy Bone marrow transplantation Mucositis Oral pain Opioid use 



This study was in part supported by FoU funds, Uppsala läns landsting, Sweden. The authors express their sincere appreciation to the nursing and physician staff of the participating centre.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anncarin Svanberg
    • 1
  • Gunnar Birgegård
    • 1
  • Kerstin Öhrn
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of HaematologyAkademiska HospitalUppsalaSweden
  2. 2.Department of Health and Social SciencesDalarna UniversityFalunSweden

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