AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 28, Number 3, 2019

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Penn’s ‘Enhanced Recovery’ Protocol Reduces Opioid Use in Spinal Surgery Patients

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First study to show benefit of a comprehensive ERAS pathway in spine and peripheral nerve surgery patients

A novel “Enhanced Recovery After Surgery” (ERAS) protocol developed by Penn Medicine for patients undergoing spinal and peripheral nerve surgery significantly reduced opioid use. A new study published in the Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine showed that when an ERAS protocol was employed—which optimizes patients’ surgical care before, during, and after surgery, including patient education, post-operative medications, and recovery plans—fewer patients needed pain medications one month after surgery.

Nearly 75 percent of patients at Penn Medicine who undergo spinal surgeries are opioid naïve—patients who are not chronically taking opioids on a daily basis—putting them at an increased risk for dependency following surgery. Previous studies have also shown that up to 7 percent of all patients who undergo spinal surgeries continue to take opioids one year after surgery. Part of the ERAS protocol at Penn includes a personalized, safe, and effective pain management plan to help prevent opioid dependency, which has rapidly become a public health crisis in the United States.

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