LONDON: Patients undergoing breast cancer surgery need less pain-killing medication post-surgery if they have anaesthesia that is free of opioid drugs, new research suggests.
While opioid drugs provide an excellent pain-killing (analgesia) effect throughout operations, they also have side effects, the researchers said.
Post-operative complications, such as respiratory depression, post-operative nausea and vomiting, itching, difficulty going to the toilet and bowel obstruction are some examples of side effects.
The findings showed that patients in the non-opiate group require less pain-killers, but receive adequate pain relief.
Patients require less analgesic 24 hours after a non-opiate anaesthesia than after an opiate anaesthesia.
“Non-opiate anaesthesia in breast cancer surgery might avoid several opiate-related side effects such as post-operative nausea and vomiting. It might also reduce cancer recurrence,” said Sarah Saxena from Jules Bordet Institute in Belgium.
“However, it is too early to recommend non-opiate anaesthesia to all breast cancer patients,” Saxena added.
In the study, pain-killer requirements were examined after patients received opiate anaesthesia and non-opiate anaesthesia.
A randomised controlled trial was conducted, containing two groups each containing 33 breast cancer patients undergoing a mastectomy or lumpectomy.
Both groups received intravenous paracetamol (1000mg/6h) and intravenous diclofenac (75 mg/12h).
Patients received a PCA (patient-controlled analgesia) pump for breakthrough pain during the first 24 hours post-operatively.