Pharmaceuticals

Local Surgeons are Avoiding Opioids After Surgery

99 percent of the physicians' hip replacement patients have been opioid-free post-operation.

The opioid crisis has emerged as the worst drug epidemic in modern American history, taking the lives of an average of 130 people every day from an overdose. Unfortunately, Texas is no exception to this sad state. In fact, overdose fatalities in Texas have increased by 42% from 2013 to 2017. In an attempt to help turn the tide of this epidemic, the surgeons at Trinity Park Surgery Center in Arlington have made it their mission to reduce the need for post-surgery opioids.

Drs. Shane Seroyer and Jesse Even are surgeons at Trinity Park Surgery Center who have made same-day joint reconstruction and spine surgeries a possibility while limiting opioid exposure. In fact, 99% of Seroyer’s total knee and hip replacement patients (496 of the last 500 patients) have been opioid-free in the immediate postoperative setting due to a non-opioid anesthetic.

The physicians use a long-acting local anesthetic that is injected into the surgical site during a procedure, which then slowly releases a numbing medication to provide non-opioid pain relief for the first few days after surgery, when patients need it the most. The product can be used across a wide range of surgical specialties including spine and women’s health procedures, as well as oral and general surgeries.

These surgeons help spine and other orthopedic patients recover quicker without the unwanted side effects or downstream consequences of opioids, including nausea and vomiting, confusion, constipation, and respiratory depression-  all of which are detrimental for patients healing from surgery.

Other non-opioid options including over-the-counter formulations of ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and other NSAIDs vary in price depending on hospital and insurance—but have proven to be less of a financial burden over time, as they expedite the recovery process and hasten patient’s date of discharge.  “As doctors, we have both an obligation and an opportunity to help lessen our patient’s exposure to opioids by prescribing the lowest effective dose, and the shortest course of therapy,” says  Seroyer and Even.

Seroyer and Even were attracted to opioid-free painkillers while they were striving to stay up to date on the newest technology and cutting-edge techniques for their patients. Once they had begun their program at Trinity Park Surgery Center, they quickly recognized that the product had great potential to help patients promptly recover from surgery without the need for high volumes of opioids. The results surpassed expectations as they realized opioid-free surgery for patients was feasible. In fact, this non-opioid protocol had helped make same-day joint reconstruction and spine surgeries a true possibility.

Since 2012, non-opioid options have become hot potatoes among surgeons and patients, used in the surgery of over 6.5 million patients. As a part of the process, physicians must facilitate patient-provider conversations on pain management and the utilization of non-opioid options to help educate the public on the effective options available.

“Ultimately, we hope that all physicians have access to safe, effective, available options, including non-opioids,” says Seroyer and Even. Both physicians currently strive to provide as many opioid-free surgeries as possible while eliminating the risks and side effects of opioids.

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