Postoperative Lumbar Microdiscectomy Pain: Minimalization by Irrigation and Cooling

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Study Design.Seventy patients undergoing de novolumbar microdiscectomy were prospectively randomized into a control group and a group in which cold intraoperative wound irrigation along with postoperative wound cooling was used. Postoperative analgesia requirements and length of hospital stay were analyzed and correlated.Objectives.To evaluate the role of intraoperative cold irrigation and postsurgical cooling in minimizing postoperative lumbar discectomy pain.Summary of Background Data.Regulated hypothermia has been used frequently in pain reduction; however, the efficacy of such a strategy in lumbar disc procedures has not been established.Methods.Seventy patients (43 men and 27 women), operated on the first time for lumbar disk herniation were prospectively randomized into two groups. A standard microdiscectomy was performed on all patients. In cohort A the wound site was irrigated with a cold (18 C) 5% bacitracin solution for 5 minutes. Additionally, a cooling microtemperature pump was placed on the wound site for 24 hours after surgery. The patients in the control group (cohort B) were treated in a standard fashion without additional hypothermic therapy. All patients received postoperative analgesia through a self-administered morphine pump. The amount of postoperative analgesia received was calculated in morphine equivalents per kilogram. The length of hospital stay was also noted.Results.The total amount of pain medication was significantly smaller in cohort A than in the control group (cohort B). For the statistical analysis of the results, covariate analyses for both the length of hospital stay and the morphine dose were used, demonstrating a statistically significant difference with P = 0.0001. No postoperative wound infection was noted in either group.Conclusions.Intraoperative and postoperative wound site cooling is a safe, inexpensive, and efficient therapeutic method. It reduces the patients’ postoperative pain, promotes earlier ambulation and decreases the length of hospital stay.

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