Postoperative NSAIDs appear to raise the risk for anastomotic complications among patients undergoing nonelective colorectal resection, according to a report in JAMA Surgery.
“Given that other analgesic regimens are effective and well tolerated, these data may be enough from some surgeons to alter practice patterns,” said Dr. Timo W. Hakkarainen of the department of surgery at the University of Washington, Seattle, and his associates.
The recent development of intravenous formulations of NSAIDs has expanded their use in postoperative patients, chiefly because the drugs don’t carry the adverse effects of opioid analgesia, which include impaired GI motility. However, several small and single-institution studies have suggested that NSAIDs used in this setting may impair anastomotic healing and may raise the rates of leakage.
Dr. Hakkarainen and his associates examined this issue using data from a statewide surveillance system for surgical quality. They analyzed 90-day complications among 13,082 adults (mean age, 58 years) who underwent surgery of the GI tract with anastomosis at 47 participating hospitals throughout Washington State during a 5-year period. The investigators tracked the use of ibuprofen, naproxen, ketorolac tromethamine, Caldolor, celecoxib, and diclofenac during the first 24 hours after surgery; they assumed that in most cases, this involved IV NSAIDs because such patients don’t take oral medications within that time period.
Postoperative NSAIDs were given to 24% of the study population. This use was associated with a significantly increased risk for anastomotic leakage during the next 90 days, with an OR of 1.24. Further analysis showed that this association was largely restricted to the subgroup of patients who had nonelective colorectal surgery, in whom the relationship was even stronger, with an OR of 1.70. Among patients who had nonelective colorectal surgery, those who received postoperative NSAIDs had a 12.3% rate of anastomotic leakage, compared with an 8.3% rate among those who did not receive NSAIDs, the investigators said (JAMA Surg. 2015 Jan. 21 [doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2014.2239]).
This study was limited in that the records didn’t specify the dose or duration of NSAID use, didn’t take into account preoperative NSAID use, and didn’t include the timing of anastomotic leakage (immediately following surgery vs. weeks or months later). “We believe that [these] results are sufficient to suggest caution in the use of NSAIDs in the postoperative treatment of patients undergoing nonelective colorectal surgery, and highlight the importance of further evaluation of this association,” the investigators added.