Research Article

Intravenous naloxone in acute respiratory failure.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1982; 284 doi: (Published 27 March 1982) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1982;284:927
  1. J Ayres,
  2. J Rees,
  3. T Lee,
  4. G M Cochrane


    A 58-year-old man presented with acute on chronic respiratory failure. In the acute stage of his illness an infusion of the opiate antagonist naloxone caused an improvement in oxygen saturation as measured by ear oximetry from 74% to 85%, while a saline infusion resulted in a return of oxygen saturation to the original value. When he had recovered from the acute episode the same dose of naloxone had no effect on oxygen saturation. These findings suggest that in acute respiratory failure there may be overproduction of, or increased sensitivity to, endorphins.