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Papers of the Week

2020 Oct 23

Paediatr Drugs

Postoperative Pain Management in Pediatric Spinal Fusion Surgery for Idiopathic Scoliosis.


Lee CS, Merchant S, Chidambaran V
Paediatr Drugs. 2020 Oct 23.
PMID: 33094437.


This article reviews and summarizes current evidence and knowledge gaps regarding postoperative analgesia after pediatric posterior spine fusion for adolescent idiopathic scoliosis, a common procedure that results in severe acute postoperative pain. Inadequate analgesia may delay recovery, cause patient dissatisfaction, and increase chronic pain risk. Despite significant adverse effects, opioids are the analgesic mainstay after scoliosis surgery. However, growing emphasis on opioid minimization and enhanced recovery has increased adoption of multimodal analgesia (MMA) regimens. While opioid adverse effects remain a concern, MMA protocols must also consider risks and benefits of adjunct medications. We discuss use of opioids via different administration routes and elaborate on the effect of MMA components on opioid/pain and recovery outcomes including upcoming regional analgesia. We also discuss risk for prolonged opioid use after surgery and chronic post-surgical pain risk in this population. Evidence supports use of neuraxial opioids at safe doses, low-dose ketorolac, and methadone for postoperative analgesia. There may be a role for low-dose ketamine in those who are opioid-tolerant or have chronic pain, but the evidence for preoperative gabapentinoids and intravenous lidocaine is currently insufficient. There is a need for further studies to evaluate pediatric-specific optimal MMA dosing regimens after scoliosis surgery. Questions remain regarding how best to prevent acute opioid tolerance, opioid-induced hyperalgesia, and chronic postsurgical pain. We anticipate that this timely update will enable clinicians to develop efficient pain regimens and provide impetus for future research to optimize recovery outcomes after spine fusion.