Document Type

Article

Publication Date

8-21-2003

Abstract

Background

Gynecological laparoscopic surgery procedures are often complicated by postoperative pain resulting in an unpleasant experience for the patient, delayed discharge, and increased cost. Glucocorticosteroids have been suggested to reduce the severity and incidence of postoperative pain.

Methods

This study examines the efficacy of a sustained release betamethasone preparation to reduce postoperative pain and the requirement for pain relief drugs after either diagnostic laparoscopy or tubal ligation. Patients were recruited, as presenting, after obtaining informed consent. Prior to surgery, patients were randomly selected by a computer generated table to receive either pharmacy-coded betamethasone (12 mg IM Celestone™) or an optically identical placebo injection of Intralipid™ and isotonic saline mixture. The effect of non-controlled prophylactic intraoperative treatment with either fentanyl or ketorolac per surgeon's orders was also noted in this study. Blood samples taken at recovery and at discharge times were extracted and analyzed for circulating betamethasone. Visual analog scale data on pain was gathered at six post-recovery time points in a triple blind fashion and statistically compared. The postoperative requirement for pain relief drugs was also examined.

Results

Although the injection achieved a sustained therapeutic concentration, no beneficial effect of IM betamethasone on postoperative pain or reduction in pain relief drugs was observed during the postoperative period. Indeed, the mean combined pain scores during the 2 hour postoperative period, adjusted for postoperative opioids as the major confounding factor, were higher approaching statistical significance (P = 0.056) in the treatment group. Higher pain scores were also observed for the tubal ligation patients relative to diagnostic laparoscopy. Intraoperative fentanyl treatment did not significantly lower the average pain score during the 2 hour postoperative period. Intraoperative ketorolac treatment significantly lowered (P = 0.027) pain scores and reduced the postoperative requirement for additional pain relief drugs.

Conclusions

There was a lack of efficacy of preoperative sustained release betamethasone in reducing postoperative pain despite maintaining a therapeutic concentration during the postoperative period. Intraoperative Ketorolac did afford some short-term pain relief in the postoperative period and reduced the need for additional pain relief drugs.

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