New Study Discounts Effectiveness of Methylprednisolone for Cardiac Surgery Pain

Results of a large multicenter randomized controlled trial being presented at the ANESTHESIOLOGY® 2015 annual meeting, and published this week in the online first edition of the journal Anesthesiology find that methylprednisolone is not effective in managing chronic pain associated with open-heart surgery. More than half of patients who undergo the procedure—involving a 6- to 8-inch incision along the breastbone and separation of the ribs, report pain at the incision site lasting 3 months or longer. The study undertook to determine if methylprednisolone, a corticosteroid that relieves pain and eases inflammation, would help reduce the risk of this long-lasting pain.

Researchers examined 1,043 patients who underwent open heart surgery, with half receiving methylprednisolone and half receiving placebo. Both were administered in two intravenous doses, one during the induction of anesthesia and the other when the patient was placed on cardiopulmonary bypass. Of the outcome, lead author Alparslan Turan, MD, summarized “While we’re not sure what causes ongoing incisional pain, we believe it’s tied to inflammation. We were hopeful the steroid would help because it’s used to treat a number of inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis and colitis. Unfortunately, methylprednisolone did not reduce the risk of this long lasting pain.” Read more about the findings here. The journal abstract, with access to the article, may be read here.

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