Intraoperative Methadone: Another Tool for Managing Postsurgical Pain

Study: Methadone Can Significantly Reduce Need for Opioids After Surgery

A study conducted by researchers from NorthShore University Health System, Evanston, Illinois, reports that patients who receive intraoperative methadone during spinal fusion surgery need lower quantities of opioids, both oral and intravenous, to manage their postoperative pain. Lead author Glenn Murphy, MD, a physician anesthesiologist at NorthShore, commented, “This is a new application for an old pain medication that offers hope for reducing the development of acute pain in the first few days after surgery, as well as chronic postoperative pain and the need for opioid medications following discharge from the hospital.” The conclusions are published in the May edition of Anesthesiology.

The management of postoperative pain is a common, yet undertreated issue, as has been reported in another Daily Dose edition earlier this week. Complex spinal surgery engenders risk for both acute and chronic postsurgical pain, and patients in high risk profiles who are administered opioids for pain management are at elevated risk for complications including addiction. In the current study, 115 surgical patients were randomized to receive either methadone of hydromorphone at the start of the procedure or during surgical closure. Researchers compared the amount of post-surgical hydromorphone administered to both groups in the 3 days after surgery. The methadone group required significantly less postsurgical opioid medication, reported lower pain scores, and greater satisfaction overall with their pain management.

Read a news story about the study findings.

The research report may be read here.

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