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ASA: Nicotine Patch May Reduce Post-Surgical Pain

Patch lowered opioid requirements in men who underwent radical retropubic prostatectomy

THURSDAY, Oct. 18 (HealthDay News) -- In men who undergo radical retropubic prostatectomy under general anesthesia, the use of a transdermal nicotine patch may help reduce pain and the subsequent need for post-operative opioids, according to research presented this week at the annual meeting of the American Society of Anesthesiologists in San Francisco.

Ashraf S. Habib, M.D., of the Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C., and colleagues randomly assigned 90 non-smoking patients to receive either a 7-mg nicotine patch or placebo applied behind the ear 30 to 60 minutes before anesthesia was administered. In all patients, post-operative analgesia included standardized morphine.

Although the researchers found no group differences in patient-reported pain reported on coughing or at rest, they found that the nicotine group used significantly less morphine at 24 hours than the placebo group (33.3 versus 44.7 milligrams). But they also found that the nicotine group tended to have higher nausea scores than the placebo group.

Further research may help determine if a patch or spray is a better form of nicotine administration, and confirm the effectiveness of nicotine in "smokers versus non-smokers and women versus men," Habib said in a statement.


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