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The divided dose approach to perioperative buprenorphine management in patients with opioid use disorder

Amanda L. Engle, PharmD, Amanda R.M. Winans, PharmD, Linda Demma, MD, PhD, Jacqueline Cleary, PharmD


There is limited evidence and no clear consensus suggesting best practices for perioperative buprenorphine management in patients with opioid use disorder. As such, we aimed to develop a standardized perioperative management approach with the goals of (1) optimizing perioperative analgesia, (2) minimizing relapse risk, (3) setting expectations for patients and clinicians, (4) achieving prescribing consistency and mitigating risk among clinicians not familiar with perioperative buprenorphine management, and (5) maintaining continuity throughout care transitions. An interprofessional expert focus group convened to develop a consensus algorithm based upon buprenorphine's unique pharmacologic features and published perioperative management recommendations. The resulting consensus algorithm continues the patient's home buprenorphine dose in order to minimize relapse risk, but utilizes a divided dose approach starting the day of surgery if moderate to severe post-operative pain is expected. This strategy leverages the analgesic effects of buprenorphine while allowing for additional opioid binding to optimize analgesia. A patient-centered multimodal perioperative approach including local and/or regional anesthetics and nonopioid adjuncts is employed. Post-operative care is optimized by preoperative planning, including standardized patient assessment, perioperative communication with the buprenorphine prescriber, and education for patients and clinicians. Overall, integrating an understanding of pharmacology and clinical impact through the use of a readily adaptable algorithm such as the divided dose approach is key to optimizing patient care in this high-risk population.


buprenorphine, perioperative, opioid use disorder, medication-assisted treatment, opioid, analgesia

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