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The Analgesic Efficacy of Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Agents (NSAIDs) in Patients Undergoing Cesarean Deliveries: A Meta-Analysis
  1. Angela M. Zeng, BA,
  2. Nina F. Nami, MD,
  3. Christopher L. Wu, MD and
  4. Jamie D. Murphy, MD
  1. From the Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine, The Johns Hopkins University and School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD
  1. Address correspondence to: Jamie D. Murphy, MD, Johns Hopkins University, Zayed 8-120, 1800 Orleans St, Baltimore, MD 21287 (e-mail: jmurphy{at}


Background and Objectives Postoperative pain after cesarean delivery, which accounts for approximately 1 in 3 live births in the United States, can be severe in many patients. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents (NSAIDs) are potent analgesics that are effective in the treatment of postoperative pain. In this meta-analysis, we assessed the analgesic efficacy of NSAIDs in postoperative cesarean delivery patients.

Methods An electronic literature search of the Library of Medicine's PubMed, Cochrane CENTRAL, Scopus, and EMBASE databases was conducted in May 2013 and updated in January 2015 (Appendix, Supplemental Digital Content 1, Searches were limited to randomized controlled trials. The primary outcome variable was visual analog scale or numerical rating scale pain scores. Secondary outcomes included cumulative postoperative opioid consumption and opioid-related adverse effects (drowsiness-sedation, nausea, and vomiting). Data extraction was performed independently by 2 reviewers. Extracted data were input into Review Manager.

Results Twenty-two randomized controlled trials compared a NSAID (n = 639) to a control (n = 674). Patients in the NSAID group versus control reported lower pain scores at 12 hours (P = 0.003) and at 24 hours (P < 0.001). Subgroup analysis showed a significant difference in pain scores at 24 hours, with patients receiving NSAIDs via intravenous-intramuscular (P < 0.001) route, but not the oral (P = 0.39) or rectal routes (P = 0.99). Significantly lower average pain scores were reported for pain with movement at 24 hours in the NSAID group (P = 0.001). Patients in the NSAID group versus controls consumed significantly less opioids (P < 0.001) and had significantly less drowsiness-sedation (P = 0.03), but there was no significant difference between the groups with regard to nausea or vomiting (P = 0.48 and P = 0.17, respectively).

Conclusions The perioperative use of NSAIDs in cesarean delivery patients will result in a significantly lower pain scores, less opioid consumption, and less drowsiness-sedation but no difference in nausea or vomiting compared to those who did not receive NSAIDs. Further research should address the optimal NSAID regimen and examine the effect of improved analgesia on patient-centered outcomes such as patient satisfaction and quality of breastfeeding.

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  • The authors declare no conflict of interest.

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