Undetected Ultracet™ dependence in an adolescent with nonmalignant back pain.

Journal of opioid management (2013-06-19)
Nabil A Khan, Maria A Sullivan, Michael G Vitale, Mary Ellen Tresgallo, John M Saroyan

Addiction to painkillers or other substances in pediatric and adolescent cases of noncancer chronic pain is an understudied phenomenon, even amidst documented increases in rates of prescription opioid use and misuse. Case studies can inform the training of clinicians in ethically negotiating a balance between optimizing analgesia and mitigating risk of aberrant drug-taking behaviors. This report discusses an 18-year-old woman with idiopathic scoliosis and clinical depression secondary to undertreated refractory chronic back pain who underwent surgery to correct pseudoarthrosis after a prior spinal instrumentation operation. This intervention in conjunction with a course of patient-controlled analgesia, hydromorphone, and outpatient tramadol, naproxen, methadone, and gabapentin was successful in addressing her long-standing lumbar pain. The patient, however, continued to complain to her pain management team of postsurgical discomfort and insisted on being prescribed Ultracet™ (acetaminophen-tramadol) rather than generic tramadol. The patient's eventual disclosure of severe withdrawal discomfort and history of covert abuse of Ultracet™ is discussed with respect to key warning signs, gaps, and contingencies in the screening, surgical, and pain management processes.

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Paracetamol, European Pharmacopoeia (EP) Reference Standard
Acetaminophen, BioXtra, ≥99.0%
Acetaminophen, meets USP testing specifications, 98.0-102.0%, powder
Acetaminophen, analytical standard
Acetaminophen, Pharmaceutical Secondary Standard; Certified Reference Material
Acetaminophen solution, 1.0 mg/mL in methanol, ampule of 1 mL, certified reference material, Cerilliant®