COX-2 selective inhibitors: a literature review of analgesic efficacy and safety in oral-maxillofacial surgery

Andrea Cicconetti, Adriano Bartoli, Francesca Ripari, Andrea Ripari
Oral Surgery, Oral Medicine, Oral Pathology, Oral Radiology, and Endodontics 2004, 97 (2): 139-46

BACKGROUND: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are the most commonly prescribed analgesic agents in surgical outpatients. Major limitations of NSAIDs are their gastrointestinal (GI) adverse events (perforation, ulceration, and bleeding), impairment of hemostatic function, and renal failure (with long-term therapy). A new class of NSAIDs, the COX-2 selective inhibitors (CSIs or Coxibs), have been developed with the aim of reducing the GI adverse events of traditional NSAIDs while maintaining their effective anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties.

OBJECTIVE: This is a narrative review of the literature aimed to discuss analgesic efficacy, clinical safety and cost-benefit ratio of CSIs in the treatment of post-oral surgery pain.

METHODS: Relevant drug and clinical studies of analgesic efficacy and safety of CSIs in the management of postoperative dental pain were identified through searches of MEDLINE/PubMed, in peer-reviewed journals of medicine and dentistry. The Food and Drug Administration Web site was searched for data of tolerability. Hand-searching included several dental journals and bibliographies of relevant studies. The last electronic search was conducted in April 2003.

RESULTS: Data from well-designed, randomized, controlled trials of CSIs on the management of post-oral surgery pain indicate that these drugs are as well-effective analgesic agents as traditional NSAIDs and offer clinical advantages in terms of GI safety and unimpaired platelet function. CSIs do not offer advantages of renal safety over traditional NSAIDs.

CONCLUSION: Although CSIs display analgesic efficacy similar to that of traditional NSAIDs in the treatment of acute, post-oral surgery pain, there is reasonable evidence that these new drugs are preferable in patients who are at an increased risk of developing serious upper-GI complications, in patients who take aspirin for cardiovascular comorbid conditions, and in those allergic to aspirin. Furthermore, CSIs may be given more safely than NSAIDs in perioperative settings, because of their lack of impairment of the blood-clotting. However, the high costs of CSIs available at present limit their routine use in the short period of postoperative dental pain-in most cases 2 to 4 days after surgery-because there is not an increased risk of developing serious GI complications with the use of cost-saving NSAIDs. The GI safety advantages of CSIs may improve the tolerability of long-duration analgesic therapies, such as cases of painful temporomandibular joint disorders and chronic orofacial pain. Further studies are needed to determine the cost-benefit ratio of using CSIs for the management of acute pain.


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