Perioperative use of gabapentinoids in France. Mismatch between clinical practice and scientific evidence

Valéria Martinez, Michel Carles, Emmanuel Marret, Hélène Beloeil
Anaesthesia, Critical Care & Pain Medicine 2018, 37 (1): 43-47

BACKGROUND: Gabapentinoids have governmental health agency approval for "chronic neuropathic pain." Over the last decade, however, the perioperative prescription of gabapentinoids has become more popular among anaesthesiologists due to their anxiolytic and antihyperalgesic proprieties, despite weak scientific evidence supporting the risk/benefit ratio for this indication.

METHODS: Our aim was to extensively describe the use of perioperative gabapentinoids by French anaesthesiologists. An online questionnaire was sent to the French Society of Anaesthesiology members. The questionnaire, focusing on gabapentinoid prescriptions, included questions on demographic data, patient conditions and types of surgeries, mode of prescription, motives and presumed side effects (dizziness, confusion, desaturation and visual disorders).

RESULTS: Five hundred and eight questionnaires were analysed, among which 70% reported gabapentinoid use. Twenty-five percent of prescribers stated using gabapentinoids in all types of surgeries, 30% in outpatient surgeries and 46% in combination with regional anaesthesia. In 66% of the cases, preoperative and postoperative prescriptions were combined. Sedation, dizziness and visual disturbance were expected side effects according to 68%, 45% and 20% of anaesthesiologists, respectively. Reported reasons in favor of gabapentinoid prescription were prevention of chronic pain (93%), expected high postoperative acute pain, i.e. painful surgeries (91%), a history of chronic pain (72%) and patient opioid dependence (72%).

DISCUSSION: French anaesthesiologists have recently included gabapentinoids in the multimodal management of postoperative pain but they are unaware of certain frequent side effects. Moreover, their expectations about the prevention of chronic pain are not validated. Our survey is a call to moderate the systematic prescription of these drugs in the perioperative period.


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