Seizure drug accelerates post-surgical opioid cessation, study finds

Perioperative use of the nonopioid seizure and nerve pain medication gabapentin may help surgical patients wean off opioids sooner, according to a study published in JAMA Surgery.

For the study, researchers enrolled more than 400 surgical patients, including total hip and total knee replacement patients, between 2010 and 2014. Patients either received a placebo or gabapentin before surgery and for three days after, in addition to post-surgical opioids. Researchers followed participants for two years postoperatively and found the gabapentin cohort on average initiated opioid cessation 24 percent sooner than the placebo group. Additionally, researchers observed no significant difference in reported pain intensity between the two cohorts.

The findings point to non-addictive gabapentin as a potential tool for curbing post-operative opioid use, which can contribute to chronic long-term opioid use.

"The routine use of perioperative gabapentin may be warranted to promote opioid cessation and prevent chronic opioid use," wrote the study's authors. "Optimal dosing and timing of perioperative gabapentin in the context of specific operations to decrease opioid use should be addressed in further research."

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