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Buprenorphine management: a conundrum for the anesthesiologist and beyond - a one-act play

Abstract

We have witnessed a worldwide upsurge of streamlined enhanced recovery after surgery (ERAS) pathways advocating for consistency and compliance within their guidelines. At a recent national conference, two experts defended their institutional policies on perioperative management of buprenorphine, one defending its continuation, while the other suggesting its discontinuation. The moderator diplomatically proclaimed the need to have guidance at the institutional level and following it for favorable patient outcomes. Unfortunately, perioperative management of buprenorphine remains an understudied topic with a lack of national guidelines leading to variations at a local level despite its increased use nationally in the current opioid crisis. Although the moderator made a valid statement, we demonstrate via our one-act play the importance of recognizing a subset of the population within an ERAS pathway that necessitates multidisciplinary discussion, communication, and patient-centric care to formulate a perioperative plan coordinating a patient’s care. More robust research is needed to minimize variability in current practices and to further develop comprehensive evidence-based guidelines that encompass risk factors and anticipated postsurgical and peripartum pain for patients on buprenorphine.

  • acute pain
  • postoperative pain
  • pain medicine
  • pharmacology: other
  • opioids, adverse effects

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