New Advances in Acute Postoperative Pain Management

Sukanya Mitra, Daniel Carlyle, Gopal Kodumudi, Vijay Kodumudi, Nalini Vadivelu
Current Pain and Headache Reports 2018 April 4, 22 (5): 35

PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Postoperative pain remains one of the most common challenges following inpatient and outpatient surgeries. With our advances in modern medicine, pain following surgical procedures still remains a challenge, though significant accomplishments have been made over the past few decades. This article highlights some of the promising new advances and approaches in postoperative pain management.

RECENT FINDINGS: Over the last decade, Enhanced Recovery after Surgery (ERAS) pathways and protocols are becoming the benchmark standards for enhancing postoperative recovery. Multimodal analgesia (MMA) is an essential component of such care. Further, in the wake of serious and persistent concern on the opioid epidemic in the USA, there has been a recent renewal of interest in non-opioid alternatives or adjuncts in controlling postoperative pain, often in the context of MMA. Intravenous (IV) acetaminophen, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), magnesium, ketamine, dexmedetomidine, liposomal bupivacaine, and newer neuraxial and peripheral regional techniques as well as patient-controlled modalities are gaining importance. Gabapentinoids have become popular but recent meta-analytic reviews have cast doubt on their routine use in perioperative settings. Among opioids, sublingual sufentanil, IV oxycodone, and iontophoretic transdermal fentanyl hold promise. Acupuncture and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation may be useful as adjuncts in MMA packages. Genetic testing, derivatives of herbal preparations, and an extended role of acute pain services may emerge as potential areas of importance in the future. There are, however, critical gaps in good quality evidence in many of the practice guideline recommendations. In the era of opioid epidemic, several lines of evidence have emerged to support non-opioid-based drugs and approaches along with a few newer opioid formulations for postoperative pain management, although more research is needed to find the right balance of efficacy and safety.


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