Background: Cyclooxygenase (COX)-2-specific inhibitors demonstrate analgesic efficacy comparable with that of conventional nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs but are associated with reduced gastrointestinal side effects and an absence of antiplatelet activity. Thus, they can be administered to patients undergoing spinal fusion surgery without an added risk of bleeding. However, concerns regarding a possible deleterious effect on bone-healing have limited their routine use. Celecoxib, a COX-2 inhibitor, recently was approved for the treatment of acute pain. The goals of the present study were to examine the analgesic efficacy of celecoxib and to determine the incidence of nonunion at one year following spinal fusion surgery.
Methods: Eighty patients who were scheduled to undergo spinal fusion received either celecoxib or placebo one hour before the induction of anesthesia and every twelve hours after surgery for the first five postoperative days. Pain scores and morphine use were recorded one hour after arrival in the post-anesthesia care unit and at four, eight, twelve, sixteen, twenty, and twenty-four hours later. Intraoperative blood loss was recorded. The status of the fusion was determined radiographically at the time of the one-year follow-up.
Results: There were no differences in demographic data or blood loss between the two groups. Pain scores were lower in the celecoxib group at one, four, eight, sixteen, and twenty hours postoperatively. There were no differences between the two groups with regard to the pain scores at twelve and twenty-four hours postoperatively. Morphine use was lower in the celecoxib group at all postoperative time-intervals. There was no difference between the celecoxib group and the placebo group with regard to the incidence of nonunion at the time of the one-year follow-up (7.5% [three of forty] compared with 10% [four of forty]).
Conclusions: The perioperative administration of celecoxib resulted in a significant reduction in postoperative pain and opioid use following spinal fusion surgery. In addition, the short-term administration of this COX-2-specific non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug had no apparent effect on the rate of nonunion at the time of the one-year follow-up.
Level of Evidence: Therapeutic Level I. See Instructions to Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.
1 Baystate Medical Center and Tufts University School of Medicine, 759 Chestnut Street, Springfield, MA 01199. E-mail address: email@example.com
2 Southern Orthopaedic Sports Medicine and Parkridge Surgery Center, 1718 St. Julian Place, Columbia, SC 29204