Excessive painkillers post surgery driving opioid crisis: Lancet

Toronto: Painkillers are not always beneficial as patients recover from minor surgery, and may also be the reason behind the surge in the current opioid crisis, according to a study published in The Lancet.

The study led by a team at the McGill University in Canada examined the results of 47 randomised clinical trials in patients discharged after undergoing a minor or moderate procedure, ranging from molar extraction to foot surgery.

The findings showed that opioid prescribing after recovering and getting hospital discharge post a surgery does not reduce pain intensity but does increase adverse events.

Opioid prescribing was associated with increased risk of vomiting and other adverse events, including nausea, constipation, dizziness, and drowsiness.

Dr. Julio Fiore, an assistant professor at McGill suggested that clinicians can consider prescribing opioid-free analgesia in these surgical settings.

Avoiding opioids could in many cases improve a patients’ recovery experience, while helping to mitigate the well-documented perils of opioid addiction, Fiore was quoted as saying to CBC News.

“We really expect that these findings encourage changes in prescribing practices. After all, like the prescription of opioids, like after discharge, our research showed that it does not seem to be as beneficial for patients as previously believed,” he said.

However, Fiore noted there is a need for more research involving the prescription of opioids after major surgeries to determine best practices.

Of the studies examined, 30 involved minor procedures (most of which were dental) and 17 involved procedures of a more moderate nature on, for instance, a shoulder or foot.

Among the opioids most commonly prescribed by surgeons are oxycodone, hydromorphone, tramadol and codeine, according to the researchers.



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