Dextromethorphan-Associated Epidural Patient-Controlled Analgesia Provides Better Pain- and Analgesics-Sparing Effects than Dextromethorphan-Associated Intravenous Patient-Controlled Analgesia After Bone-Malignancy Resection: A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Double-Blinded Study

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Pain after bone malignancy surgery is intense and requires large amounts of analgesics. The augmented antinociceptive effects of dextromethorphan (DM), a N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor antagonist, were demonstrated previously. We assessed the use of postoperative patient-controlled epidural analgesia (PCEA) or IV patient-controlled analgesia (PCA) in patients undergoing surgery for bone malignancy under standardized combined general and epidural anesthesia with or without DM. Patients (n = 120) were randomly allocated to receive PCEA (ropivacaine 3.2 mg plus fentanyl 8 μg/dose) or IV-PCA (morphine 2 mg/dose) postoperatively, starting at subjective visual analog scale pain intensity ≥4 of 10 for up to 96 h. Placebo or DM 90 mg orally (30 patients/group/set) was given in a double-blinded manner before surgery and for 2 days afterwards. Diclofenac 75 mg IM was available as a rescue drug. DM patients used PCA and rated their pain >50% less than their placebo counterparts in each set, especially during the first 2 postoperative days (P < 0.01). Hourly and overall maximal pain intensity among PCEA patients was ∼50% less than in the IV-PCA set (P < 0.01). Diclofenac was used 42% less (P < 0.01) by the PCA-DM patients compared with their placebo counterparts. Seven PCEA-DM and 11 IV-PCA-DM individuals reported having side effects compared with 44 in the PCEA-placebo and the IV-PCA-placebo groups (P < 0.01). Time to first ambulation was similar with both analgesia techniques but shorter among the DM-treated patients compared with the placebo recipients (1.5 ± 0.8 versus 2.1 ± 1.1 days, P = 0.02). Thus, DM afforded better pain control and reduced the demand for analgesics, augmented the PCEA effect versus IV-PCA, and was associated with minimal untoward effects in each analgesia set. DM patients ambulated earlier than placebo recipients.

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