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‘Nerve Zap’ for Pain After Surgery May Reduce Need for Opioids

4 min read

By Sarah D. Collins
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, April 21, 2021 (HealthDay News) — An emerging technological know-how could zap your submit-op ache away — minor or no opioids required.

The strategy is called percutaneous peripheral nerve stimulation. It involves inserting a compact wire upcoming to a nerve and using a stimulator to deliver a gentle electrical present-day to the impacted location, interrupting ache transmission.

A workforce led by Dr. Brian Ilfeld, of the University of California, San Diego, examined the system in individuals who were having foot, ankle or knee operations, or major shoulder medical procedures. The wire can be placed whilst the individual is awake, without the need of will need for sedation.

“It really is rather simple,” Ilfeld mentioned. “You numb up the skin and put the needle by way of that place … then you use an ultrasound device to information the needle to the target nerve and about 1 centimeter away from it, you deploy the direct, which is inside of the needle. So you essentially just withdraw the needle, which leaves the direct in put.”

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Clients then have their procedure and wake up with the system completely ready to go. They are already comfortable, since medical practitioners use nerve blocks to alleviate their ache for ten to twelve hrs, Ilfeld mentioned.

“When they are in the restoration space, we connect a stimulator, which is about the size of two 50 %-pounds placed upcoming to each individual other,” he mentioned. “It really is compact plenty of that you can just stick it on to the individual.”

At household, members applied a battery-powered pulse generator to manage the electrical stimulation.

Sixty-5 volunteers were part of this pilot research, with 31 in the lively system group and the rest receiving a dummy system. All obtained opioid ache treatment just in situation. Two weeks later on, the direct was taken off throughout a submit-operative check out up. Clients were adopted for up to four months.

The findings, which were published online lately in the journal Anesthesiology, were much better than the medical practitioners could have hoped for.

“We decreased opioid use considerably, by 80%, and we decreased ache scores by about sixty%,” Ilfeld mentioned. “So it was much more strong than we experienced expected.”


The choices are promising, but the size of this first research was far too compact to make definitive claims, Ilfeld mentioned. In addition, the system can only work on comparatively compact spots of the entire body and would not be productive for a procedure that encompasses several nerve areas, he stated.

A more extensive research is in the will work to see if the nerve stimulation strategy could be integrated in foreseeable future medical procedures ache relief methods.

If the technique does become the norm, the implications could be innovative, according to Dr. David Dickerson, chairman of the American Modern society of Anesthesiologists’ Committee on Pain Medication.

“Even even though we have created all types of new anti-inflammatories and nerve blocks, individuals after surgical procedures nonetheless have almost the actual same incidence or chance of having uncontrolled moderate to severe ache” as 15 to twenty years back, Dickerson mentioned. A little something that potential customers to a more than fifty% reduction in ache and 80% reduction in opioid publicity is, “for the 1st time, anything that is heading to move that needle,” he additional.


Dickerson mentioned SPR Therapeutics, maker of the stimulation method, experienced paid out him to display other medical practitioners how to use the system for serious ache. He additional that he has no other economic ties to the company.

The breakthrough could help ease the nation’s opioid epidemic.

An approximated 2 million Us citizens abuse the medication, and 90 folks for every working day die from opioid overdoses. Lots of start off using them in the clinic to handle ache and then can not end.

Ilfeld mentioned, “A person of the techniques that folks become addicted to opioids is by in fact finding them 1st after medical procedures for submit-operative ache manage, and then they just continue on to use them and continue on to want them.”

Though some individuals in the research did will need opioids in addition to the nerve stimulation, any technological know-how that reduces use of the medication could save life, the medical practitioners mentioned.

A lot more details

For more about submit-operative care, pay a visit to the U.S. National Institutes of Health and fitness.

Sources: Brian Ilfeld, MD, MS, professor, anesthesiology, University of California, San Diego David Dickerson, MD, chairman, Committee on Pain Medication, American Modern society of Anesthesiologists, and part main for ache medicine, NorthShore University Health and fitness Procedure, Evanston, Unwell. Anesthesiology, April 15, 2021, online

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