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Peripherally applied opioids for postoperative pain: evidence of an analgesic effect? A systematic review and meta-analysis

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BACKGROUND: Opioids applied peripherally at the site of surgery may produce postoperative analgesia with few side effects. We performed this systematic review to evaluate the analgesic effect of peripherally applied opioids for acute postoperative pain.

METHODS: We searched PubMed (1966 to June 2013), Embase (1980 to June 2013), and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (The Cochrane Library 2013, Issue 6). Randomized controlled trials investigating the postoperative analgesic effect of peripherally applied opioids vs. systemic opioids or placebo, measured by pain intensity scores, consumption of supplemental analgesics and time to first analgesic were included. Trials with sample sizes of fewer than 10 patients per treatment group or trials with opioids administered intra-articularly or as peripheral nerve blocks were excluded.

RESULTS: Data from 26 studies, including 1531 patients and 13 different surgical interventions were included. Clinical heterogeneity of the studies was substantial. Meta-analysis indicated statistically significant, but not clinically relevant, reductions in VAS score at 6-8 h (mean difference -4 mm, 95% CI: -6 to -2) and 12 h postoperatively (mean difference -5 mm, 95% CI: -7 to -3) for peripherally applied opioids vs. placebo and statistically significant increased time to first analgesic (mean difference 153 min, 95% CI: 41-265). When preoperative inflammation was reported (five studies), peripherally applied opioids significantly improved postoperative analgesia.

CONCLUSION: Evidence of a clinically relevant analgesic effect of peripherally applied opioids for acute postoperative pain is lacking. The analgesic effect of peripherally applied opioids may depend on the presence of preoperative inflammation.

Original languageEnglish
JournalActa Anaesthesiologica Scandinavica
Volume59
Issue number7
Pages (from-to)830-45
Number of pages16
ISSN0001-5172
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2015

ID: 45515917