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Intraoperative Esmolol as an Adjunct for Perioperative Opioid and Postoperative Pain Reduction: A Systematic Review, Meta-analysis, and Meta-regression

Gelineau, Amanda M., MD*; King, Michael R., MD; Ladha, Karim S., MD, MSc; Burns, Sara M., MS*; Houle, Timothy, PhD*; Anderson, T. Anthony, MD, PhD*

doi: 10.1213/ANE.0000000000002469
Chronic Pain Medicine: Meta-Analysis

BACKGROUND: Esmolol is an ultrashort β-1 receptor antagonist. Recent studies suggest a role for esmolol in pain response modulation. The authors performed a meta-analysis to determine if the intraoperative use of esmolol reduces opioid consumption or pain scores.

METHODS: PubMed, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, pubget, and Google Scholar were searched. Studies were included if they were randomized, placebo- or opioid-controlled trials written in English, and performed on patients 18 years of age or older. For comparison of opioid use, included studies tracked opioid consumption intraoperatively and/or in the postanesthesia care unit. Pain score comparisons were performed during the first hour after surgery.

RESULTS: Seventy-three studies were identified, 23 were included in the systematic review, and 19 were eligible for 1 or more comparisons. In 433 patients from 7 trials, intraoperative esmolol decreased intraoperative opioid consumption (Standard Mean Difference [SMD], −1.60; 95% confidence interval [CI], −2.25 to −0.96; P ≤ .001). In 659 patients from 12 trials, intraoperative esmolol decreased postanesthesia care unit opioid consumption (SMD, −1.21; 95% CI, −1.66 to −0.77; P ≤ .001). In 688 patients from 11 trials, there was insufficient evidence of change in postoperative 1 hour pain scores (SMD, −0.60; 95% CI, −1.44 to 0.24; P = .163).

CONCLUSIONS: This meta-analysis demonstrates that intraoperative esmolol use reduces both intraoperative and postoperative opioid consumption, with no change in postoperative pain scores.

From the *Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care and Pain Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts

Department of Pediatric Anesthesiology, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois

Department of Anesthesia, Toronto General Hospital, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Published ahead of print October 11, 2017.

Accepted for publication August 3, 2017.

Funding: Support was provided solely from institutional and/or departmental sources of the Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care and Pain Medicine, Boston, MA.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Supplemental digital content is available for this article. Direct URL citations appear in the printed text and are provided in the HTML and PDF versions of this article on the journal’s website.

Reprints will not be available from the authors.

Address correspondence to T. Anthony Anderson, MD, PhD, Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine, Stanford University, 300 Pasteur Dr, H3590A MC5640, Stanford, CA 94305. Address e-mail to

© 2018 International Anesthesia Research Society
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