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Papers of the Week

2022 Aug 13

Ir J Med Sci

Pharmacogenetic profiling and individualised therapy in the treatment of degenerative spinal conditions.


McDonnell JM, Rigney B, Storme J, Ahern DP, Cunniffe G, Butler JS
Ir J Med Sci. 2022 Aug 13.
PMID: 35962253.


Patients presenting with degenerative spinal changes are often poor surgical candidates due to associated co-morbidities, frailty, or sarcopenia. Additionally, surgeries of a degenerative spine can prove difficult due to the distortion of normal surgical anatomy. Therefore, many patients are managed conservatively with a variety of modalities, including over-the-counter and prescription medications. Nevertheless, several patients do not experience adequate relief from pain with analgesic medications, precipitating multiple hospital visits, and usage of resources. As a result, back pain is regarded as a major economic burden, with total costs of associated treatment exceeding $100 billion annually. Pharmacogenetics is a relatively novel method of evaluating an individual's response to analgesic medications, through analysis of germline polymorphisms. It entails obtaining a genetic sample, often via buccal swab or peripheral blood sample, and genetic analysis achieved through either polymerase chain reaction +/- Sanger sequencing, microassays, restriction length fragment polymorphism analysis, or genetic library preparation and next generation sequencing. The potential efficacy of pharmacogenetic analysis has been highlighted across several specialities to date. However, a paucity of evidence exists regarding spine surgery populations. Nevertheless, regular prospective pharmacogenetic analysis may ultimately prove beneficial when concerning degenerative spinal cohorts due to aforementioned surgical and economic considerations. The purpose of this narrative review is to outline how metaboliser profile variants affect the pharmacokinetics of specific analgesia used to treat back pain, and to discuss the current potential and limitations of employing regular pharmacogenetic analysis for spine surgery populations with degenerative conditions.