Measurement of QTc in patients receiving chronic methadone therapy

Ricardo A. Cruciani, Ryuichi Sekine, Peter Homel, David Lussier, Ysmael Yap, Yukako Suzuki, Paul Schweitzer, Stanley R. Yancovitz, Jeanne A. Lapin, Lauren Shaiova, Robert G. Sheu, Russell K. Portenoy

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96 Scopus citations


Recent reports suggest that methadone may prolong the QTc interval and cause torsades de pointes. This study was conducted to evaluate the prevalence of QTc prolongation during oral methadone therapy and identify factors associated with prolongation. Patients receiving oral methadone as treatment for chronic pain or addiction were eligible for the study. One hundred four patients who were receiving ≥ 20 mg methadone per day for ≥ 2 weeks underwent electrocardiograms to measure QTc interval duration. Sixty-three (61%) patients were male and 63 (61%) were receiving methadone maintenance for opioid addiction. The mean (± SD) age was 45.3 ± 9.4 years. The median (range) methadone dose was 110 mg/day (20-1200 mg/day); median (range) number of months on methadone was 12.5 months (1-444 months). The median (range) QTc interval was 428 msec (396-494 msec). Thirty-three percent had QTc prolongation (males 40%, females 20%; P = 0.03). No patient had a QTc longer than 500 msec. Significant dose response was observed in males on methadone <12 months (rho = 0.60, P = 0.02). Our study suggests that methadone may prolong the QTc interval in specific subpopulations but poses little risk of serious prolongation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)385-391
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Pain and Symptom Management
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Cardiac toxicity
  • MMTP
  • Methadone
  • Opioids
  • Pain management
  • QTc prolongation


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