International journal of obstetric anesthesia

Scheduled acetaminophen with as-needed opioids compared to as-needed acetaminophen plus opioids for post-cesarean pain management.

PMID 25936786


Combination opioid-acetaminophen drugs are commonly used for pain management after cesarean delivery. The aim of this study was to determine if scheduled acetaminophen decreases opioid use compared to as-needed combination acetaminophen-opioid administration. We performed a retrospective chart review of women who underwent cesarean delivery before and after a clinical practice change. All patients received spinal anesthesia containing intrathecal morphine 200μg and scheduled non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for 48h postoperatively. The first group (As-Needed Group, n=120) received combination oral opioid-acetaminophen analgesics as needed for breakthrough pain. The second group (Scheduled Group, n=120) received oral acetaminophen 650mg every 6h for 48h postoperatively with oral oxycodone administered as needed for breakthrough pain. The primary outcome was opioid use, measured in intravenous morphine mg equivalents, in the first 48h postoperatively. The Scheduled Group used 9.1±2.1mg (95% CI 5.0-13.2) fewer intravenous morphine equivalents than the As-Needed Group (P <0.0001) over the study period. Fewer patients in the Scheduled Group exceeded acetaminophen 3g daily compared to the As-Needed Group (P=0.008). Pain scores were similar between study groups. After cesarean delivery, scheduled acetaminophen results in decreased opioid use and more consistent acetaminophen intake compared to acetaminophen administered as needed via combination acetaminophen-opioid analgesics, without compromising analgesia.