Postoperative pain management after craniotomy: Evaluation and cost analysis

Scott Y. Rahimi, John R. Vender, Samuel D. Macomson, Adam French, Joseph R. Smith, Cargill H. Alleyne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: Patients undergoing craniotomies have traditionally received opiates for the management of their postoperative pain. The use of narcotic pain medications can be costly, can decrease early walking, can lengthen hospital stay, and can alter a patient's neurological examination results. The use of alternative pain medications such as cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) inhibitors may benefit patients by resolving many of these issues. Compared with traditional nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, these anti-inflammatory medications may be used safely in neurosurgical patients because of their selective inhibition of the COX-2 enzyme, which avoids the platelet dysfunction caused by other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. METHODS: A randomized, single-blinded prospective study was used to evaluate the efficacy of alternative pain management strategies for patients who have undergone craniotomy. Twenty-seven patients were randomly assigned to a control group (n = 13) receiving narcotics alone or an experimental group (n = 14) receiving a COX-2 inhibitor in addition to narcotic pain medications. RESULTS: The narcotics group was noted to have statistically significantly higher visual analog scale scores, increased length of stay, and increased narcotic use compared with the COX-2 group. The narcotics group also had increased hospitalization costs when compared with the COX-2 group. CONCLUSION: The use of scheduled atypical analgesics, such as COX-2 inhibitors, in addition to narcotics for the management of postoperative pain after craniotomy may provide better pain control, may decrease side effects associated with narcotic pain medications, may encourage earlier walking, and may reduce total hospitalization costs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)852-857
Number of pages6
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2006


  • Craniotomy
  • Cyclooxygenase-2 inhibitors
  • Opioids
  • Pain management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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