Patients OK With Fewer Opioids After Gallbladder Surgery

Patients OK With Fewer Opioids After Gallbladder Surgery

A study that investigated the pain relief required by patients recovering from gallbladder surgery shows less opioid relief is required than previously thought. The study’s main conclusion is that a more conservative pain management regime, one that minimizes the use of opioid based drugs, will not harm patient outcomes. In fact, they’re hopeful the findings will point toward a strategy that will help the medical community as a whole get a better grip on the rising epidemic of opioid overuse.

The study focused on data from one hundred and seventy patients who had their gallbladders removed surgically at a Michigan university hospital. Most patients were prescribed two hundred and fifty milligrams of opioid drugs for use during their surgical recovery period; which broke down to about fifty pills per patient. But when most of the patients were surveyed, the study’s researchers found they used far fewer of the pills than had been prescribed. In fact, the average number of pills taken for pain relief was six. The rest of the medication went unused and was available to them for some other use.

Armed with this data, the researchers created a new prescription guideline that was found to reduce the average opioid prescription by two thirds; and more than twice as many patients as before were able to use non-opioid drugs and skip opioids entirely.

Key Points:

  • 1Researchers at Michigan Medicine determined most patients needed less than a fifth of the painkillers they were prescribed following surgery.
  • 2Some patients were even able to manage their pain without opioids at all; using only non-prescription drugs such as acetaminophen.
  • 3The researchers noted that there is little training or guidance offered to doctors regarding prescription pain medication and how to utilize it for patients.

Far fewer opioid painkillers are needed than thought for people who have their gallbladder removed, a new study suggests.

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