• Modern Techniques of Adjunctive Pain Control Lower Opioid Use, Pain Scores, and Length-of-Stay in Patients Undergoing Posterior Spinal Fusion for Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis

      Nabar, Sean J.; The University of Arizona College of Medicine - Phoenix; Shrader, M. Wade (The University of Arizona., 2013-04-17)
      Study Design. Retrospective analysis. Objective. To determine if the use of adjunctive pain medications (subcutaneous bupivacaine, dexmedetomidine infusion, and intravenous ketorolac) will reduce the need for opioids, reduce postoperative pain, and shorten length of hospital stay in patients with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis undergoing posterior spinal fusion. Methods. Retrospective review of children 10 to 18 years with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis receiving posterior spinal fusion surgery over the past 10 years at Phoenix Children’s Hospital. Physicians managed the patients’ pain postoperatively with adjunctive medications in addition to intravenous and oral opioids. Variables of interest were local anesthetic bupivacaine delivered subcutaneously via elastomeric pain pump, sedative/analgesic dexmedetomidine infused for up to 24 hours postoperatively, and the NSAID ketorolac delivered intravenously. These three medications were used either alone or in some combination determined by the physician’s clinical judgment. Primary outcomes analyzed were normalized opioid requirement after surgery, VAS pain scores, and length of stay in the hospital. Results. One hundred and ninety-six children were analyzed with no significant differences in demographics. Univariate analysis showed that all three adjunct medications improved outcomes. A multivariate regression model of the outcomes with respect to the three medication variables of interest was developed to analyze the effects of the three medications simultaneously. The regression analysis showed that subcutaneous bupivacaine significantly reduced normalized opioid requirement by 0.98 mg/kg (P = 0.001) and reduced VAS pain scores by 0.67 points (P = 0.004). Dexmedetomidine significantly reduced the average VAS pain scores in the first 24 hours by 0.62 points (P = 0.005). Ketorolac had no effect in the multiple regression analysis. Conclusion. The use of subcutaneous bupivacaine provides good analgesia with low pain scores. A reduction in opioid requirement is beneficial and may be directly related to presence of the bupivacaine pump, although this may be limited by potential treatment bias. The three adjunct medications improve our outcomes favorably and should be studied prospectively.