For pregnancies complicated by fetal myelomeningocele who meet the established criteria, prenatal closure is a viable management option. Prenatal closure is an open procedure, with some techniques requiring greater dissection of maternal tissue than cesarean delivery; pain control is an important postoperative goal. Given the rising rates of opioid dependence and concerns regarding the fetal and neonatal effects of opioid use, our practice has turned to nonopioid pain management techniques.
This study aimed to compare postoperative opioid use and pain scores in women undergoing open fetal myelomeningocele repair with and without continuous local bupivacaine wound infusion.
This was a retrospective, single-center chart review of all consecutive patients who underwent open myelomeningocele repair from March 2013 to December 2019. Women were enrolled at the time of referral and locally followed for 2 weeks postoperatively. The control group received patient-controlled epidural analgesia for 48 hours with acetaminophen and oral and intravenous opioids as needed. The treatment group received patient-controlled epidural analgesia for 24 hours with acetaminophen, oral and intravenous opioids, and continuous local bupivacaine infusion. Pain scores, medication use, and postoperative milestones and complications through discharge were abstracted from the chart and compared.
Of 72 subjects, 51 were in the control group and 21 in the treatment group. Total opioid use, including intravenous doses (165 vs 52.5 mg; P=.001) and daily average oral opioid use (30 vs 10.5 mg; P=.002) were lower in the treatment group. In addition, 24% of women in the treatment group used no opioid postoperatively, compared with 4% in the control group. There was no difference in postoperative day 1 to 4 pain scores, antiemetic use, or bowel function; the treatment group was discharged significantly earlier.
Postoperative opioid use was reduced in women who received continuous local wound infusion of bupivacaine for incisional pain control after prenatal myelomeningocele repair. Pain control is paramount following open myelomeningocele repair; local bupivacaine wound infusion is an important adjunct to reduce opioid use postoperatively.