Jefferson experts were recently featured on the front page of the Health section of the Philadelphia Inquirer on the topic of reducing opioid use after surgery.
Opioid addiction has become an epidemic in this country. The dependence typically begins for surgical patients post-operation. Surgeons, in the past, have prescribed a very generous supply of pain pills. Now researchers are developing new methods of pain management. Along with a variety of medications i.e. Tylenol, Advil etc., some surgeons prevent/treat pain with regional pain blocks. Using a catheter threaded between nerves, the patient can be injected at home with ropivacaine, a type of local anesthesia that numbs the afflicted area.
Although reducing the number of prescribed opioids seems novel, Dr. Eugene Viscusi, Director of Pain Management at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital reported that surgeons in this country are typically “generous” in prescribing opioids. He stated that in other countries, patients “will not get a big bottle of opioids” after surgery. They are treated with Aleve, Tylenol or ibuprofen, and he assured their pain is managed with these measures.
In addition to a change in medications, other methods of avoiding opioid addiction among patients is education. Dr. Asif Ilyas of the Rothman Institute at Jefferson gives his patients a tablet and plays an educational video so they are aware of the risks of opioids. One of Dr. Ilyas’ patients was interviewed for the article in the Inquirer. The patient said the video helped him understand the risk and to only take the prescribed amount of opioids.