Split-dose oxycodone protocol reduces opioid use after cesarean



Using a split dose of oral oxycodone after cesarean delivery could more than halve opioid use, according to a study published in Obstetrics & Gynecology.

A mother holds her newborn baby.©joruba/Thinkstock

A retrospective study reviewed medical records of 1,050 women undergoing cesarean delivery, 508 of whom were treated after a change in protocol for postdelivery oxycodone orders. Instead of a 5-mg oral dose given for a verbal pain score of 4/10 or below and 10 mg for a pain score of 5-10/10, patients were given 2.5-mg or 5-mg dose respectively, with a nurse check after 1 hour to see if more of the same dosage was needed.

The split-dose approach was associated with a 56% reduction in median opioid consumption in the first 48 hours after cesarean delivery; 10 mg before the change in practice to 4.4 mg after it. There was also a 6.9-percentage-point decrease in the number of patients needing any postoperative opioids.

While the study did show a slight increase in average verbal pain scores in the first 58 hours after surgery – from a mean of 1.8 before the split-dose protocol was introduced to 2 after it was introduced – there was no increase in the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, acetaminophen, or gabapentin, and no difference in peak verbal pain scores.

“Our goal with the introduction of this new order set was to use a patient-centered, response-feedback approach to postcesarean delivery analgesia in the form of split doses of oxycodone rather than the traditional standard dose model,” wrote Jalal A. Nanji, MD, of the department of anesthesiology and pain medicine at the University of Alberta, Edmonton, and coauthors. “Involving patients in the decision for how much postcesarean delivery analgesia they will receive has been found to reduce opioid use and improve maternal satisfaction.”

The number of patients reporting postoperative nausea or vomiting was halved in those treated with the split-dose regimen, with no difference in mean overall patient satisfaction score.

Dr. Nanji and associates wrote that women viewed avoiding nausea or vomiting after a cesarean as a high priority, and targeting the root cause – excessive opioid use – was preferable to treating nausea and vomiting with antiemetics.

They also noted that input from nursing staff was vital in developing the new split-order set, not only because it directly affected nursing work flow but also to optimize the process.

The study was supported by the department of anesthesiology, perioperative, and pain medicine at Stanford (Calif.) University. One author declared travel funding from a university. No other conflicts of interest were declared.

SOURCE: Nanji J et al. Obstet Gynecol. 2019. doi: 10.1097/AOG.0000000000003305.

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