Methods to Reduce Opioid Use During Surgical Treatment of Pediatric Supracondylar Fractures – a Pilot Study

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Background: The current opioid epidemic is a national problem and an increasing concern for pediatric orthopedic patients. The utilization of non-opioid pain methods may help improve the over-prescribing and overuse of opioid medications. The present study is a pain medication usage study that aims to investigate the effects of an intraoperative bupivacaine (BP) fracture injection and IV paracetamol on postoperative opioid consumption when treating supracondylar fractures of the humerus in children. Methods: The study was approved by the college of medicine's institutional review board (IRB). Forty-two patients treated for a type-III supracondylar extension-type fracture of the humerus by 2 surgeons were reviewed. Two cohorts (n = 21) were compared based on whether patients received an intraoperative fracture injection of BP. A sub-analysis was performed among the BP cohort by stratifying patients who received only BP and patients who received BP and intraoperative IV paracetamol. Data variables evaluated included baseline patient characteristics and postoperative inpatient analgesic use. Results: The BP cohort received a lesser number of opioid doses during the total postoperative hospital stay (2.1 ± 1.8 versus 3.6 ± 2.5; p = 0.031) as well as average morphine-milligram equivalents (MME) (11.8 ± 15.9 versus 4.2 ± 5.2; p = 0.044). When the BP cohort was stratified by patients who did and did not receive intraoperative IV paracetamol, during their total postoperative hospital stay, the paracetamolgroup consumed analgesic medication less frequently (p = 0.005), consumed less opioid doses (p = 0.011), and consumed less morphine-milligram-equivalents of opioids (p = 0.043). Discussion: Opioid abuse and overuse in children is part of a national healthcare crisis. The use of BP injected into the fracture at the time of surgery is safe, effective, and reduces the need for opioids. Furthermore, the combination of intraoperative BP and IV paracetamol demonstrated less utilization of opioids than BP alone.


Pediatric orthopaedics; Supracondylar fractures; Opioid epidemic; Bupivacaine injection; Level of evidence III; Retrospective cohort study


Surgical Procedures, Operative



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