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Pain Management following Open Reduction and Internal Fixation of Distal Radius FracturesFunding None.
Background Distal radius fractures (DRF) are commonly treated with open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF). Few studies address perioperative and postoperative pain control for this procedure.
Questions/Purpose We attempt to demonstrate efficacy of pain management modalities during the perioperative and acute postoperative period after ORIF. Specifically, does the type of perioperative anesthesia used during fixation of DRF affect pain control postoperatively? Does the quantity of narcotic pain medication prescribed or type of pain medication given postoperatively affect pain management?
Methods We retrospectively reviewed 294 adult (≥18 years old) patients who underwent outpatient ORIF of acute DRF between December 2012 and December 2014. All procedures were performed with a standard volar plating technique through a flexor carpi radialis approach. Patient demographics, fracture laterality, severity of fracture, type of operative anesthesia, and details regarding postoperative oral pain medications were recorded. We reviewed the number and timing of patient phone calls regarding postoperative pain and refills of pain prescriptions.
Results Two-hundred ninety-four patients (average age 48.7 years) were included. One-hundred twenty-two injuries were right-sided (41.5%), 168 were left-sided (57.1%), and four were bilateral (1.4%). One-hundred fifty-one patients (51.4%) received regional anesthesia prior to surgery. Average number of narcotics tablets prescribed was 58. There were 66 patients who called the orthopaedic patient hotline regarding pain-control issues at a median of 7.0 days postoperatively. One-hundred twenty-nine (43.9%) patients required refills of narcotic pain medication postoperatively. There was no significant difference in the number of calls or refills given with regard to the type of anesthesia used or postoperative pain regimen prescribed.
Conclusions More than one-fifth of patients who underwent ORIF experienced pain severe enough to call our institution's orthopaedic hotline to ask for help at a median of 7 days after fixation.
Clinical Relevance Our study demonstrates poor pain control regardless of intraoperative anesthesia or utilization of varying postoperative pain regimens.
This study was approved by the Biomedical Institutional Review Board of The Ohio State University.
Received: 11 May 2020
Accepted: 04 August 2020
Article published online:
14 October 2020
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