Adjuncts for pain management in lumbar decompressive surgery are needed to reduce narcotic consumption and promote early mobility.
To evaluate the efficacy and active components of a previously described epidural analgesic paste in controlling postoperative pain and facilitating early discharge from hospital after lumbar decompressive surgery.
A randomized double-blind controlled trial was conducted. Two-hundred and one patients were randomized to 1 of 4 analgesic epidural pastes at the time of lumbar spinal surgery: combination paste (morphine + methylprednisolone), steroid paste (methylprednisolone alone), morphine paste (morphine alone), or placebo. The primary outcome measures used were analgesic consumption and the McGill Pain Questionnaire (MPQ). Secondary outcome measures were: modified American Spinal Cord Injury Association (ASIA) score, Short Form 36 General Health Survey (SF-36), Aberdeen Pain Index (ABPI), time to ambulation and time to discharge from hospital.
Administration of combination and steroid paste, but not morphine paste, resulted in a statistically significant reduction in mean pain rating index (PRI) and present pain intensity (PPI) components of the MPQ in the first 3 days after surgery. Likewise, postoperative in-patient narcotic analgesic consumption was reduced in the combination paste and steroid paste group, but not in the morphine paste group. No difference in time to ambulation or discharge, SF-36 scores, ABPI scores, or neurologic recovery was observed.
An analgesic paste containing methylprednisolone acetate is effective at reducing postoperative pain after lumbar decompressive surgery. Mixing effective doses of morphine sulfate in the paste abrogates the expected analgesic effects of epidural morphine.
"The additional medications used included epidural fentanyl  and morphine [2,23,24] as well as IM bupivacaine [21,25] and IM and IV methylprednisolone [20,25]. The postoperative pain scores were assessed by Visual Analog Scale (VAS) [3-5,18,20-22], by McGill Pain Questionnaire (MPQ) [2,23], by Aberdeen Back Pain Index (ABPI)  or by using a Numerical Rating Scale (NRS) from 0 to 10 [17,19], from 0 to 3  and from I to V . Some authors did not state their methods of grading pain [24,28]. "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background
This study is a descriptive review of the literature aimed at examining the efficacy of the use of intraoperative epidural steroids in lumbar disc surgery, a matter that remains controversial.
The relevant clinical trials were selected from databases and reviewed. The methodological quality of each included study was assessed and graded for perceived risk of bias. All the documented significant and non-significant findings were collected. Our outcome targets were reduction in postoperative pain scores, consumption of analgesia, duration of hospital stay and no increase in complication rates. The variation in the timing of postoperative pain assessments necessitated grouping the outcome into three postoperative stages; early: 0 to 2 weeks, intermediate: more than 2 weeks to 2 months and late: more than 2 months to 1 year.
Sixteen trials that were published from1990 to 2012 were eligible. At least one significant reduction in pain score was reported in nine of the eleven trials that examined pain in the early stage, in four of the seven trials that examined pain in the intermediate stage and in two of the eight trials that examined pain in the late stage. Seven of the nine trials that looked at consumption of postoperative analgesia reported significant reduction while six of the ten trails that examined the duration of hospital stay reported significant reduction. None of the trials reported a significant increase of steroid-related complications.
There is relatively strong evidence that intraoperative epidural steroids are effective in reducing pain in the early stage and reducing consumption of analgesia. There is also relatively strong evidence that they are ineffective in reducing pain in the late stage and in reducing duration of hospital stay. The evidence for their effectiveness in reducing pain in the intermediate stage is considered relatively weak. The heterogeneity between the trials makes it difficult to make undisputed conclusions and it indicates the need for a large multicenter trial with validated outcome measures that are recorded at fixed time intervals.
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