Opioid-Sparing Strategy Still Provides Good Pain Control

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Patients surveyed following surgery and only a small 'rescue' opioid Rx postop

HealthDay News — Following implementation of an opioid-sparing pain management strategy, half of patients report using no opioids and adequate pain control, according to a study published online May 30 in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons.

Alexander Hallway, from the University of Michigan Health System in Ann Arbor, and colleagues evaluated the feasibility of an opioid-sparing pain management strategy in 190 patients after six surgical procedures. Patients were provided with a small “rescue” opioid prescription for breakthrough pain but were otherwise advised to use acetaminophen (650 mg) and ibuprofen (600 mg).

The researchers found that median prescription size was five pills. Just over half of patients (52 percent) used no opioids after procedures, with a median of two leftover pills. Surveys showed the median pain score was 1 and satisfaction score was 10. The vast majority of patients (91 percent) reported that their pain was manageable. Opioid use was more likely among patients who were younger (52 versus 59 years), reported higher pain scores (2 versus 1), received larger rescue prescriptions (six versus four pills), and were less likely to agree that their pain was manageable (82 versus 98 percent).

“These results demonstrate the effectiveness and acceptability of major reduction and even elimination of opioids after discharge from minor surgical procedures,” the authors write.

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