Univeristy of Utah anesthesiologists on front lines in battle against post-operative pain

SALT LAKE CITY -- Post-operative pain is the No. 1 issue for people who've had surgery-and University of Utah anesthesiologists are helping these patients fight that battle on several fronts.

Anesthesiologists at the U School of Medicine and hospital have developed a way to determine precisely how much medication is needed to relieve pain in major surgery patients who've become tolerant to opioids-the primary drugs used to relieve post-operative pain. The U physicians just won the top award for their presentation on pain control at the International Anesthesia Research Society meeting in Tampa, Fla

They're also using two new techniques that not only alleviate post-operative pain but also shorten the hospital stays for people who've had total knee replacements, surgery on their anterior cruciate ligaments (ACL), or who've experienced fractures or other injuries of the lower extremities.

University Hospitals & Clinics is the only hospital in Utah using these breakthrough techniques.

As millions of Americans take Lortab, OxyContin, and other narcotics to relieve chronic pain, the daily prescriptions of those drugs are making it harder to get effective pain management after they've had major surgery. That's because people who take daily prescription narcotics develop a tolerance to opioids. This has made recovery from major surgery more painful for these patients because standard post-operative doses of morphine haven't worked-until now.

U of U anesthesiologists have developed a method that takes into account a patient's opioid tolerance and helps physicians determine the right amount of medication to stop post-operative pain in people who already take a daily narcotic prescription.

Opioid tolerance affects hundreds of patients who have surgery at University Hospitals & Clinics, according to anesthesiologists Jeffrey D. Swenson, M.D., associate professor, and Jennifer J. Davis, M.D., assistant professor, at the U Schoo

Contact: Phil Sahm
University of Utah Health Sciences Center

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