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Opioid-free versus opioid-sparing anaesthesia in ambulatory total hip arthroplasty: a randomised controlled trial.

BACKGROUND: Enhanced recovery after surgery pathways are essential for ambulatory surgery. They usually recommend lower intraoperative opioid use to avoid opioid-related adverse effects. This has led to opioid-sparing anaesthesia (OSA) techniques, with the extreme approach of opioid-free anaesthesia (OFA) mostly with dexmedetomidine. As evidence is lacking in day-case primary total hip arthroplasty, this study was performed to assess the potential benefits in postoperative analgesia of OFA over OSA.

METHODS: In this single-centre, prospective, triple blind study, we randomly allocated 80 patients undergoing day-case primary THA under general anaesthesia. Patients received a total intravenous anaesthesia with a laryngeal mask and multimodal analgesic regimen with non-opioid analgesics. The OSA group received low dose of sufentanil, and the OFA group received dexmedetomidine The primary outcome was the opioid consumption in the first 24 h in oral morphine equivalents (OME).

RESULTS: There was no difference in median cumulative OME consumption at 24 h between the OSA and OFA groups (12 [0-25] mg vs 16 [0-30] mg, respectively; P=0.7). Pain scores were similar and low in both groups with comparable walking recovery time. Adverse events were sparse and equivalent in both groups except for dizziness, which was more frequent in the OSA group (P<0.05).

CONCLUSIONS: In day-case total hip arthoplasty under general anaesthesia, opioid-free anaesthesia and opioid-sparing anaesthesia both provide early recovery and effective postoperative pain relief. When compared with opioid-sparing anaesthesia, opioid-free anaesthesia does not decrease opioid consumption in the first 24 h. These findings do not suggest any significant benefit from complete intraoperative avoidance of opioids.


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