Background: Current spine postoperative pain control protocols consider the expected pain following spine fusion surgery to correlate with surgical extent, that is, the greater the number of operated vertebrae, the greater the postoperative pain. Due to this assumption, Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) protocols are principally applied to minimally invasive and percutaneous spine surgery and less to open extensive spine fusion operations. The aim of this study was to determine whether postoperative pain does in fact correlate with the surgical extent, potentially opening the door to non-narcotic postoperative pain protocols for this patient subset. Materials and methods: Forty consecutive patients, undergoing open posterior spine surgery, were evaluated for postoperative pain during the first 72 after surgery. All patients were then divided into two groups according to the number of spine levels fused, and the correlation between the number of fusion levels and self-reported pain was analyzed statistically. Results: Self-reported pain levels were not found to correlate with the extent of the spine operation. Conclusions: As “bigger operation” does not necessarily equate with “bigger pain,” adequate postoperative pain control after extensive spine fusion surgery might be achieved without the routine use of narcotic medication, as practiced after minimally invasive and percutaneous surgery. Additional prospective randomized trials are needed to further substantiate this conclusion.
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© 2022 World Institute of Pain.
- enhanced recovery after surgery
- postoperative pain
- spine fusion