Surgeons Ditching Opioids in Operating Room
Surgeons across the country are now implementing techniques that minimize the use of highly addictive painkillers that have led to the opioid crisis we currently face. Doctors are turning to well-established drugs similar to Novocain and Ibuprofen to reduce the risk of opioid dependence after surgery.
David Auyong and Neil Hanson, anesthesiologists at Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle, have been encouraging the use of nerve blocks that numb specific parts of the body, rather than opioids whose effects reach the lungs, gastrointestinal system and the brain. Guided by ultrasound imaging, Auyong guides a catheter into spaces where he can bathe individual nerves with bupivacaine, a long-acting, numbing drug.
After surgery, pumps continue to deliver the drug directly to the nerves for two to four days until the most intense pain subsides. It’s a move away from using systems that allow patients to give themselves limited amounts of opioids, like morphine. Using this technique, Auyong and Hanson were able to substantially reduce the amount of opioids patients received for total knee-replacement procedures.
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