Effects of gabapentin on postoperative pain and opioid consumption in patients who underwent lumbar laminectomy

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Journal of the American Pharmacists Association









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Background: Postoperative pain management solely with opioids elevates the risk of opioid-related adverse events during hospitalization and after discharge from the hospital. Clinical trials have demonstrated gabapentinoids as viable adjunctive treatments for spinal surgeries. However, only a few practice-based studies have examined the efficacy of gabapentin as an opioid-sparing agent for patients undergoing lumbar laminectomy in rural hospital settings. Objective: To determine the effects of gabapentin on opioid consumption and pain perception in patients who underwent lumbar laminectomy at a rural community hospital. Methods: Data were collected by retrospective chart reviews of 99 patients who underwent lumbar laminectomy at Yavapai Regional Medical Center from January 1, 2017, to July 1, 2019. The patients were stratified into 2 groups: those who were taking gabapentin as outpatients before surgery and were continued on the same dose postoperatively (n = 50, gabapentin group) and those who were not taking gabapentin preoperatively or postoperatively (n = 49, usual-treatment group). The primary end points were opioid consumption in morphine milligram equivalents (MME) and pain for 24 hours postsurgery. Results: Outcomes from the mixed-model analysis of variance showed significant main effects of group and time for opioid consumption in MME (F1,97 = 4.3, P < 0.05 and F3,291 = 133.9, P < 0.001, respectively) and numerical pain scale scores (F1,99 = 4.0, P < 0.05 and F3,241 = 21.4, P < 0.001, respectively) and group-time interaction for opioid consumption in MME (F3,291 = 2.6, P = 0.05). Post hoc analyses showed that opioid consumption in MME was significantly lower in the gabapentin group than in the usual-treatment group for the first 6 hours postoperatively. The pain scores were significantly lower in the gabapentin group than in the usual-treatment group across all time periods. Conclusion: Patients on gabapentin showed reductions in pain perception and postoperative opioid consumption. The results extend the findings from randomized trials to a real-world clinical setting. These data support using gabapentin in conjunction with opioids for pain management of patients undergoing lumbar laminectomy.