Use of indomethacin for pain relief following scleral buckling surgery

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Patients undergoing scleral buckling and cryotherapy suffer from mild to moderate postoperative pain. As good pain relief facilitates post-operative ocular examination, as well as patient comfort and recovery, the authors designed a prospective randomised double masked trial to evaluate the efficacy of indomethacin as a satisfactory analgesic for such patients.


Patients with a primary uncomplicated rhegmatogenous retinal detachment requiring scleral buckling and cryotherapy were randomly allocated to receive either indomethacin or placebo. A rectal suppository was administered 2 hours before surgery, followed by two capsules twice daily for 10 days. Pain relief was assessed with a linear graphic rating scale at the end of each day. Supplementary analgesia was allowed and recorded.


12 patients received indomethacin (group A) and 16 received placebo (group B). The extent of surgery was similar in both groups. One patient in group A, and two in group B withdrew after 3 days. The pain scores were converted to changes from the baseline (score on day 1), and the area under the curve calculated for each patient. The means of the areas were analysed with the Mann-Whitney test and showed that indomethacin caused a statistically significant reduction in pain score, both at 3 days (p=0.04) and at 10 days (p=0.014). There was no statistically significant difference in extra analgesic requirements between the two groups (p=0.2).


Indomethacin is recommended for short to medium term pain relief following scleral buckling and cryotherapy.

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