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Program Cuts Opioid Use in Teens After Spinal Surgery for Scoliosis

Pain control maintained following intervention with preoperative patient education and smaller prescription quantities

MONDAY, Aug. 15, 2022 (HealthDay News) — An intervention that involves preoperative patient education and smaller prescription quantity successfully reduces opioid use while maintaining pain control following posterior spinal fusion for adolescent idiopathic scoliosis, according to a study published in the September issue of the Journal of Pediatric Orthopaedics.

Daniel Yang, from C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and colleagues evaluated the effect of preoperative patient education and implementation of evidence-based prescribing guidelines on opioid use and pain level among 49 adolescent idiopathic scoliosis patients (aged 10 to 17 years) undergoing posterior spinal fusion. Data on opioid use were compared for a preintervention cohort and the prospectively enrolled postintervention cohort.

The researchers found that in comparison with the preintervention cohort, the low-dose (no more than eight doses) and average-dose (nine to 25 doses) groups after the intervention consumed less oxycodone. Postintervention, there were fewer mean days of oxycodone use (5.6 versus 8.9) and doses used in the first week (14 versus 23) than before the intervention. Study participants requested and received an opioid refill fewer times than eligible patients who declined to participate, withdrew, or missed enrollment (three of 49 versus eight of 35).

“Setting expectations regarding postoperative pain management is critical, as nonstudy participants were significantly more likely to request an opioid refill,” the authors write.

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