Opioid analgesia remains the mainstay of postoperative pain management strategies despite being associated with many adverse effects. A specific opioid-free protocol was designed to limit opioid usage.
The aim of the study was to audit the opioid-free rate within this protocol and to identify factors that might contribute to opioid-free surgery.
A retrospective study of all elective patients receiving abdominal colorectal surgery at the Center for Colon and Rectal Surgery at AdventHealth over 6 months was performed. Data on demographics, indications, perioperative management, outcomes, and inpatient and outpatient analgesic requirements were collected with subsequent analysis.
A total of 303 consecutive patient records were analyzed. Approximately two-thirds (67.7%) of patients did not receive narcotics once they left the postanesthesia care unit as an inpatient. One-third of patients (32.0%) did not receive narcotic analgesia within 30 days of surgery as an outpatient. Patients in the opioid-free cohort were significantly older and had a malignant indication, less perioperative morbidity, and a shorter length of stay.
Our study demonstrates that opioid-free analgesia is indeed possible in major colorectal surgery. Study limitations include its retrospective nature and that it is from a single institution. Despite these limitations, this study provides proof of concept that opioid-free colorectal surgery is possible within a specific protocol.

© 2020 S. Karger AG, Basel.