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Perioperative pain management and outcomes in patients who discontinued or continued pre-existing buprenorphine therapy

Aamer Attaar, PharmD, BCPS, Molly Curran, PharmD, BCPS, BCCCP, Lyndsi Meyenburg, PharmD, BCPS, Richard Bottner, DHA, PA-C, Clarissa Johnston, MD, Kirsten Roberts Mason, PharmD, BCPS


Objective: This study compared opioid utilization and clinical outcomes in surgical patients receiving maintenance buprenorphine therapy who discontinued versus those who continued buprenorphine treatment perioperatively. Lack of high-quality evidence, conflicting results in previous studies, and the possible need for reinduction after discontinuing therapy present clinicians with the complicated dilemma of choosing the best strategy to control post-operative pain in patients receiving buprenorphine.

Design: A multicenter, retrospective cohort study.

Participants: Hospitalized patients between January 1, 2017 and December 12, 2019 who underwent any type of surgery, had a documentation of an outpatient buprenorphine prescription or inpatient order, and received buprenorphine for 5 or more days prior to the procedure were included.

Main outcome measure(s): The primary objective was to compare mean 24-hour morphine milligram equivalent (MME) utilization post-operatively between patients who discontinued buprenorphine preoperatively versus those who continued therapy throughout the perioperative period.

Results: Fifty-one patients met the inclusion criteria for this study. Of these, 42 patients were continued on buprenorphine through surgery, while nine patients had a documentation of discontinuation preoperatively. The 24-hour post-operative MME utilization (interquartile range) was 58.8 (18-100.8) in patients who continued therapy through surgery versus 152.6 (114.5-236) in patients who discontinued therapy preoperatively (p = 0.005). There were no significant differences in post-operative pain scores or length of stay between groups.

Conclusion: Post-operative opioid use was significantly lower in patients who continued buprenorphine compared with those who discontinued buprenorphine preoperatively.



buprenorphine, pain, surgery

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