Implications of uninterrupted preoperative transdermal buprenorphine use on postoperative pain management

Yvette N. Martin, Amy C.S. Pearson, John R. Tranchida, Toby N. Weingarten, Phillip Schulte, Juraj Sprung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Scopus citations


Background and objectives Buprenorphine is a partial μ-receptor agonist resistant to displacement from receptors by conventional opioids, which can block the effect of conventional opioids and may interfere with postoperative pain management. We aimed to quantify perioperative opioid use in patients receiving transdermal buprenorphine (TdBUP). Methods We identified patients receiving TdBUP who underwent surgery between 2004 and 2016. To compare opioid requirements (intravenous morphine equivalents (IV-MEq)), we constructed a matched study, matching each TdBUP patient with two opioid-naive patients by sex, age, and type of anesthesia and procedure. Results Nineteen unique patients underwent 22 procedures while receiving TdBUP. Total (IQR) amounts of IV-MEq (intraoperative, recovery room, and 24 hours after recovery-room discharge) were 98 (63, 145) and 46 (30, 65) mg IV-MEq for TdBUP and opioid-naive patients, respectively (p<0.001). Postoperative IV-MEq requirements were 54 (38, 90) and 15 (3, 35) mg for TdBUP and opioid-naive patients, respectively (p<0.001). Among TdBUP patients, higher preoperative doses of TdBUP were associated with greater postoperative opioid requirements (p=0.02). Specifically, patients with a 20 μg/hour TdBUP patch required 133.8 mg IV-MEq more postoperatively than patients with a 5 μg/hour patch (p=0.002). Following discharge from the recovery room, 17 (77%) TdBUP patients and 15 (34%) opioid-naive patients reported severe pain (OR 6.6 (95% CI 2.0 to 21.3); p<0.001; adjusting for baseline pain score, 5.0 (95% CI, 1.4 to 17.8); p=0.01). Conclusions Analgesic management for patients receiving TdBUP therapy must account for increased opioid needs, and greater preoperative doses of TdBUP were associated with greater postoperative opioid requirements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)342-347
Number of pages6
JournalRegional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2019



  • anesthesia
  • buprenorphine
  • opioid resistance
  • opioids
  • pain
  • surgery
  • transdermal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine

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