Conference Coverage

ERAS protocol for cesarean delivery reduces opioid usage



– An enhanced recovery after surgery (ERAS) pathway for cesarean delivery decreased postoperative opioid usage by 62% in one health care organization, researchers reported at the Pregnancy Meeting. The protocol incorporates a stepwise approach to pain control with no scheduled postoperative opioids.

Dr. Kathryn Ruymann, an obstetrics and gynecology resident at Abington Jefferson Health in Pennsylvania. Jake Remaly/MDedge News

Dr. Kathryn Ruymann

Abington Jefferson Health, which includes two hospitals in Pennsylvania, implemented an ERAS pathway for all cesarean deliveries in October 2018. Before implementing the protocol, median total postoperative opioid use per patient was 180.3 morphine milligram equivalents (MME); after, it was 30 MME, Kathryn Ruymann, MD, said at the meeting sponsored by the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine. Dr. Ruymann is an obstetrics and gynecology resident at Abington Jefferson Health.

Prior to the ERAS protocol, 99%-100% of patients took an opioid during the postoperative period. “With ERAS, 26% of patients never took an opioid during the postop period,” Dr. Ruymann and her associates reported. “Pain scores decreased with ERAS for postoperative days 1-3 and remained unchanged on day 4.”

One in 300 opioid-naive patients who receives opioids after cesarean delivery becomes a persistent user, one study has shown (Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2016 Sep; 215(3):353.e1-18). “ERAS pathways integrate evidence-based interventions before, during, and after surgery to optimize outcomes, specifically to decrease postoperative opioid use,” the researchers said.

While other surgical fields have adopted ERAS pathways, more research is needed in obstetrics, said Dr. Ruymann. More than 4,500 women deliver at Abington Jefferson Health each year, and about a third undergo cesarean deliveries.

The organization’s ERAS pathway incorporates preoperative education, fasting guidelines, and intraoperative analgesia, nausea prophylaxis, and antimicrobial therapy. Under the new protocol, postoperative analgesia includes scheduled administration of nonopioid medications, including celecoxib and acetaminophen. In addition, patients may take 5-10 mg of oxycodone orally every 4 hours as needed, and hydromorphone 0.4 mg IV as needed may be used for refractory pain. In addition, patients should resume eating as soon as tolerated and be out of bed within 4 hours after surgery, according to the protocol. Postoperative management of pruritus and instructions on how to wean off opioids at home are among the other elements of the enhanced recovery plan.

To examine postoperative opioid usage before and after implementation of the ERAS pathway, the investigators conducted a retrospective cohort study of 316 women who underwent cesarean delivery 3 months before the start of the ERAS pathway and 267 who underwent cesarean delivery 3 months after. The researchers used an application developed in Qlik Sense, a data analytics platform, to calculate opioid usage.

Mean postoperative opioid use decreased by 62%. The reduction in opioid use remained 8 months after starting the ERAS pathway.

“An ERAS pathway for [cesarean delivery] decreases postoperative opioid usage by integrating a multimodal stepwise approach to pain control and recovery,” the researchers said. “Standardized order sets and departmentwide education were crucial in the success of ERAS. Additional research is needed to evaluate the impact of unique components of ERAS in order to optimize this pathway.”

The researchers had no disclosures.

SOURCE: Ruymann K et al. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2020 Jan;222(1):S212, Abstract 315.

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