July 20, 2024
Multiple Rush studies seek to minimize the use of opioids for post-surgical pain
The study is one of many initiatives at Rush looking for alternatives to opioids for pain relief. These efforts have included studies using new treatments in anesthesiology, orthopedics, and neurology.
The study is one of many initiatives at Rush looking for alternatives to opioids for pain relief. These efforts have included studies using new treatments in anesthesiology, orthopedics, and neurology.

The United States has approximately 5 percent of the world’s population, but accounts for 99 percent of the world’s consumption of hydrocodone, an opioid used to treat long-term pain. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that prescription opioids continue to contribute to the epidemic with more than 35 percent of all opioid overdose deaths. On average, 130 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

In an effort to decrease opioid use and curb the current trend, researchers at Rush University Medical Center have developed a strategy of using enhanced recovery after surgery (ERAS) pathways, which were initially developed for colorectal surgery patients to improve surgical outcomes. The impacts of reduced length of stay, readmissions, and complications were soon realized and ERAS pathways expanded to gynecologic oncology, orthopedic, bariatric, breast reconstruction, obstetric, head and neck, and General Surgery. Pathways are designed to promote a faster recovery and earlier return to normal function and one way to do this is by implementing opioid-sparing multimodal analgesia (MMA) to manage pain in surgical patients.

The results of their recent study suggest that using an alternative MMA regimen of the pain relievers oral acetaminophen and gabapentin, as well as intravenous acetaminophen during surgery, is safe and more effective than conventional pain relief treatments that include opioids. The results were published in the print issue of JAMA on Sept. 1.

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