Randomized Double-Blinded Placebo-Controlled Trial Comparing Two Multimodal Opioid-Minimizing Pain Management Regimens Following Transsphenoidal Surgery



Document Type



OBJECTIVE: Pain control is an important clinical consideration and quality-of-care metric. No studies have examined postoperative pain control following transsphenoidal surgery for pituitary lesions. The study goals were to 1) report postoperative pain scores following transsphenoidal surgery, 2) determine if multimodal opioid-minimizing pain regimens yielded satisfactory postoperative pain control, and 3) determine if intravenous (IV) ibuprofen improved postoperative pain scores and reduced opioid use compared with placebo. METHODS: This study was a single-center, randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled intervention trial involving adult patients with planned transsphenoidal surgery for pituitary tumors randomized into 2 groups. Group 1 patients were treated with scheduled IV ibuprofen, scheduled oral acetaminophen, and rescue opioids. Group 2 patients were treated with IV placebo, scheduled oral acetaminophen, and rescue opioids. The primary end point was patient pain scores (visual analog scale [VAS], rated 0-10) for 48 hours after surgery. The secondary end point was opioid use as estimated by oral morphine equivalents (OMEs). RESULTS: Of 136 patients screened, 62 were enrolled (28 in Group 1, 34 in Group 2). The study was terminated early because the primary and secondary end points were reached. Baseline characteristics between groups were well matched except for age (Group 1, 59.3 ± 14.4 years; Group 2, 49.8 ± 16.2 years; p = 0.02). Mean VAS pain scores were significantly different, with a 43% reduction in Group 1 (1.7 ± 2.2) compared with Group 2 (3.0 ± 2.8; p < 0.0001). Opioid use was significantly different, with a 58% reduction in Group 1 (26.3 ± 28.7 mg OME) compared with Group 2 (62.5 ± 63.8 mg OME; p < 0.0001). CONCLUSIONS: Multimodal opioid-minimizing pain-management protocols resulted in acceptable pain control following transsphenoidal surgery. IV ibuprofen resulted in significantly improved pain scores and significantly decreased opioid use compared with placebo. Postoperative multimodal pain management, including a nonsteroidal antiinflammatory medication, should be considered after surgery to improve patient comfort and to limit opioid use.

Publication Date


Publication Title

Journal of Neurosurgery







First Page


Last Page


Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


This document is currently not available here.