Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine, Ahead of Print.
OBJECTIVEPreemptive administration of analgesic medication is more effective than medication given after the onset of the painful stimulus. The efficacy of preoperative or preemptive pain relief after thoracolumbosacral spine surgery has not been well studied. The present study was a double-blind, placebo-controlled randomized trial of preemptive analgesia with a single-shot epidural injection in adult patients undergoing spine surgery.METHODSNinety-nine adult patients undergoing thoracolumbosacral operations via a posterior approach were randomized to receive a single shot of either epidural placebo (group 1), hydromorphone alone (group 2), or bupivacaine with hydromorphone (group 3) before surgery at the preoperative holding area. The primary outcome was the presence of opioid sparing and rescue time—defined as the time interval from when a patient was extubated to the time pain medication was first demanded during the postoperative period. Secondary outcomes include length of stay at the postanesthesia care unit (PACU), pain score at the PACU, opioid dose, and hospital length of stay.RESULTSOf the 99 patients, 32 were randomized to the epidural placebo group, 33 to the hydromorphone-alone group, and 34 to the bupivacaine with hydromorphone group. No significant difference was seen across the demographics and surgical complexities for all 3 groups. Compared to the control group, opioid sparing was significantly higher in group 2 (57.6% vs 15.6%, p = 0.0007) and group 3 (52.9% vs 15.6%, p = 0.0045) in the first demand of intravenous hydromorphone as a supplemental analgesic medication. Compared to placebo, the rescue time was significantly higher in group 2 (187 minutes vs 51.5 minutes, p = 0.0014) and group 3 (204.5 minutes vs 51. minutes, p = 0.0045). There were no significant differences in secondary outcomes.CONCLUSIONSThe authors’ study demonstrated that preemptive analgesia in thoracolumbosacral surgeries can significantly reduce analgesia requirements in the immediate postoperative period as evidenced by reduced request for opioid medication in both analgesia study groups who received a preoperative analgesic epidural. Nonetheless, the lack of differences in pain score and opioid dose at the PACU brings into question the role of preemptive epidural opioids in spine surgery patients. Further work is necessary to investigate the long-term effectiveness of preemptive epidural opioids and their role in pain reduction and patient satisfaction.Clinical trial registration no.: NCT02968862 (clinicaltrials.gov)