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Impact of Preoperative Narcotic Use on Outcomes in Migraine Surgery

Adenuga, Paul B.S.; Brown, Matthew M.D.; Reed, Deborah M.D.; Guyuron, Bahman M.D.

Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery: July 2014 - Volume 134 - Issue 1 - p 113–119
doi: 10.1097/PRS.0000000000000281
Reconstructive: Head and Neck: Original Articles

Background: This study focuses on the impact of preoperative narcotic medication use on outcomes of surgical treatment of migraine headaches.

Methods: A retrospective comparative review was conducted with patients undergoing migraine surgery. Data gathered included demographic information, baseline migraine headache characteristics, migraine surgery sites, postoperative migraine headache characteristics 1 year or more following surgery, and preoperative migraine medication use. Patients were grouped based on preoperative narcotic medication use. The narcotic users were subdivided into low and high narcotic user groups. Preoperative migraine characteristics were comparable between groups and the outcomes of migraine surgery were compared between the groups.

Results: Outcomes in 90 narcotic users were compared with those for 112 patients not using narcotic medications preoperatively. Narcotic users showed statistically significantly less reduction in frequency, severity, and duration of migraine headaches after surgery. Narcotic users had clinical improvement in 66.7 percent of patients and elimination in 18.9 percent versus 86.6 and 36.6 percent, respectively, in the nonnarcotic group. The group that consumed narcotics had significantly lower rates of improvement in all migraine indices.

Conclusions: Previous studies have discouraged the routine use of narcotic medications in the management of migraine medications. The authors’ study demonstrates that narcotic medication use before migraine headache surgery may predispose patients to worse outcomes postoperatively. Because pain cannot be objectively documented, the question remains of whether this failure to improve the pain was indeed a suboptimal response to surgery or the need for narcotic substances.


Cleveland, Ohio

From the Department of Plastic Surgery, Case Western Reserve University, and the American Migraine Center.

Received for publication October 1, 2013; accepted January 21, 2014.

Disclosure: The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare pertaining to this report.

Bahman Guyuron, M.D., 29001 Cedar Road, Cleveland (Lyndhurst), Ohio 44124

©2014American Society of Plastic Surgeons