Pain management after elective arthroplasty in older adults is complicated due to the risk of undertreatment of postoperative pain and potential adverse effects from analgesics, notably opioids. Using combinations of analgesics has been proposed as potentially beneficial to achieve pain control with lower opioid doses.Objective:
We compared a multimodal pain protocol with a traditional one, in older elective arthroplasty patients, measuring self-rated pain, incidence of postoperative delirium, quantity and cost of opioid analgesics consumed.Methods:
One hundred fifty-eight patients, 70 years and older, admitted to tertiary care for elective arthroplasty were prospectively assessed postoperative days 1–3. Patients received either traditional postoperative analgesia (acetaminophen plus opioids) or a multimodal pain protocol (acetaminophen, opioids, gabapentin, celecoxib), depending on surgeon preference. Self-rated pain, postoperative delirium, and time to achieve standby-assist ambulation were compared, as were total opioid doses and analgesic costs.Results:
Despite receiving significantly more opioid analgesics (traditional: 166.4 mg morphine-equivalents; multimodal: 442 mg morphine equivalents; t = 10.64, P < .0001), there was no difference in self-rated pain, delirium, or mobility on postoperative days 1–3. Costs were significantly higher in the multimodal group (t = 9.15, P < .0001). Knee arthroplasty was associated with higher pain scores than hip arthroplasty, with no significant difference in opioid usage.Conclusion:
A multimodal approach to pain control demonstrated no benefit over traditional postoperative analgesia in elective arthroplasty patients, but with significantly higher amounts of opioid consumed. This poses a potential risk regarding tolerability in frail older adults and results in increased drug costs.