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Papers of the Week

2022 Nov 01

Anesth Analg



Opioid Use Disorder in Pregnant Patients.


Nathan N
Anesth Analg. 2022 Nov 01; 135(5):911.
PMID: 36269982.


In this issue of Anesthesia & Analgesia, Lim and colleagues offer a scoping review of the available literature encompassing opioid use disorder (OUD) in pregnant patients. As discussed in their review, opioid use and abuse in pregnant patients have increased four-fold in the past decade. As such, these patients can present significant challenges with respect to pain management during labor and delivery. A baseline habituation to opioids can render patients resistant to conventional pain management plans. Those who are additionally prescribed opioid agonist-antagonists or other maintenance medications for OUD such as buprenorphine or methadone have even more complex pharmacologic considerations that make pain management unpredictable. As detailed in their analysis, there is a paucity of literature surrounding optimal management strategies in this population of patients. Reports are increasing over time, however, most publications are of lower tier evidence, with very few randomized trials and systematic reviews to inform practitioners. It becomes plainly evident that this is an area of clinical science that demands greater attention. Specific areas of focus elaborated by the authors include: better characterization of opioid selection and dosing in managing labor analgesia, effectiveness of different regional anesthetic techniques, non-pharmacologic management, and psycho-social support for these patients. The reader is strongly encouraged to review the cited article for an in-depth understanding of the concepts summarized in this infographic.