Patient-Controlled Analgesia Following Lumbar Spinal Fusion Surgery Is Associated With Increased Opioid Consumption and Opioid-Related Adverse Events.


Neurosurgery; Pharmacy

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BACKGROUND: Optimal postoperative pain control is critical after spinal fusion surgery. There remains significant variability in the use of postoperative intravenous opioid patient-controlled analgesia (PCA) and few data evaluating its utility compared with nurse-controlled analgesia (NCA) among patients with lumbar fusion.

OBJECTIVE: To investigate the efficacy of postoperative PCA compared with NCA to improve opiate prescription practices.

METHODS: A retrospective review from a single institution was conducted in consecutive patients treated with posterior lumbar spinal fusion for degenerative pathology. Patients were divided into cohorts on the basis of postoperative treatment with PCA or NCA. Postoperative pain scores, length of stay, and total opioid consumption data were collected. Patients were stratified according to preoperative opioid consumption as opioid naive (0 morphine milligram equivalents [MME] daily), low consumption (1-60 MME), high consumption (61-90 MME), or very high consumption (>90 MME).

RESULTS: A total of 240 patients were identified, including 62 in the PCA group and 178 in the NCA group. PCA patients had higher mean preoperative opioid consumption than NCA patients (49.2 vs 24.3 MME, P = .009). PCA patients had higher mean opioid consumption in the first 72 h in all 4 of the preoperative opioid consumption subcategories. Pain control and adverse event rates were similar between PCA and NCA in the low to high preoperative opioid consumption groups.

CONCLUSION: Postoperative PCA is associated with significantly more opioid consumption in the first 72 h after surgery and equal or worse postoperative pain scores compared with NCA after lumbar spinal fusion surgery.

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