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Perioperative Pregabalin for Postoperative Pain Control and Quality of Life After Major Spinal Surgery

Gianesello, Lara MD; Pavoni, Vittorio MD; Barboni, Elisabetta MD; Galeotti, Ilaria MD; Nella, Alessandra MD

Journal of Neurosurgical Anesthesiology: April 2012 - Volume 24 - Issue 2 - p 121–126
doi: 10.1097/ANA.0b013e31823a885b
Clinical Investigations

Background: Adequate management of postoperative pain after major spine surgery is often difficult to achieve. We investigated the efficacy of an antineuropathic pain drug, pregabalin (PG), on postoperative pain control and on improvement of quality of life (QoL).

Methods: Sixty patients scheduled for elective decompressive spine surgery were enrolled. One hour before surgery patients received 300 mg of either oral PG or placebo (PL) and 150 mg of PG or PL twice a day for 48 hours postoperatively. During the first 48 postoperative hours, a continuous infusion of morphine 0.01 mg/kg/h and ketorolac tromethamine 2.5 mg/h was administered. Intravenous morphine in 2-mg aliquots up to a maximum of 10 mg was used as rescue therapy. Pain was measured at rest and during movement using a visual analog scale (VAS score), and side effects were recorded in the first hour and at 4, 8, 12, 24, and 48 hours. Three months and 1 year after discharge, patients were contacted by telephone by 1 of the authors to obtain follow-up information using the EuroQoL questionnaire.

Results: During the first 8 postoperative hours, VAS scores at rest were significantly lower in the PG group than in the PL group (P<0.05), whereas VAS scores on movement were significantly lower up to 12 hours after the operation in the PG group (P<0.05). The morphine consumption in the PG group was 3±2 mg, whereas in the PL group it was 9.5±2.5 mg (P<0.05). Postoperative incidence of constipation and nausea/vomiting was higher in the PL group than in the PG group. No significant differences between the 2 groups were observed with regard to other adverse effects. QoL measures revealed an improvement in outcome, especially in movement and in pain dimensions in both groups; however, at 3 months, subjective qualification of overall QoL was better in the PG group than in the PL group. There were no differences in QoL after the 1-year follow-up period.

Conclusions: Perioperative PG administration reduces early postsurgical pain at rest and particularly during movement after major spine surgery with less opioid consumption, and it seems to influence the improvement of overall QoL 3 months after surgery.

Department of Anesthesia and Intensive Care, University-Hospital Careggi, Largo Palagi, Firenze, Italy

The authors have no funding or conflicts of interest to disclose.

Reprints: Lara Gianesello, MD, Department of Anesthesia, University-Hospital Careggi, Largo Palagi, 1. 50139 Firenze, Italy (e-mail:

Received June 24, 2011

Accepted September 29, 2011

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.