Pain Management in Head and Neck Surgery Patients

  • End date
    Nov 24, 2022
  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    University of Alabama at Birmingham
Updated on 24 January 2021


Our study aims to see if the addition of a scheduled non-opioid pain regimen will decrease the use and risk of opioid pain medications as well as improve pain control in head and neck surgery patients. Participants will be randomized to one of two pain regimens (opioid medication regimen vs combination regimen of opioid and non-opioid medications).


Head and neck surgery patients have significant difficulty with pain control and the traditional opioid pain regimens can have increased risk in this patients population (namely, respiratory and airway compromise). Most of the literature for head and neck cancer patients focuses on pain management during chemoradiation therapy, but very few studies evaluate pain management in the post-operative setting. Patients with worse pain control and chronic opioid use do not score as well on quality of life questionnaires and have higher rates of depression and anxiety.

The few studies that did specifically evaluate post-operative pain showed success with a scheduled non-opioid management such as NSAIDs, acetaminophen, and gabapentin/pregabalin. In head and neck surgery patients, pre-operative gabapentin as compared to standard opioid pain medications was shown to have better pain control and less opioid requirements post operatively. Post-operative gabapentin has been studied and shows equivalent results, but has not been tested in a randomized controlled fashion and thus, more data is necessary. In another study evaluating scheduled acetaminophen vs as needed opioid pain medication in post-operative Cesarean section patients, there were similar results with improved pain control and less opioid use. NSAIDS are frequently avoided in post-surgical patients due to an increased risk of bleeding, but are frequently used in non-surgical patients and have shown significant benefit in pain control. Celecoxib is an NSAID that does not carry an increased bleeding risk and has been shown to be beneficial in pain control.

The pain management team in the UAB Department of Anesthesiology currently uses a combination regimen of opioid and non-opioid medication for their post-operative patients. This is the combination we plan to use in our treatment group. It consists of the standard dosing of oxycodone (an opioid) and acetaminophen, gabapentin and celecoxib (non-opioids) and is considered routine care for Anesthesiology's post-operative patients.

This study would be the first of its kind and potentially help determine a new post-operative pain management protocol for head and neck patients that is both more effective and less risky.

Condition Analgesia, pain management, pain control, pain relieving, managed pain, pain therapy
Treatment Celecoxib, Gabapentin, Acetaminophen, Oxycodone, Hydrocodone-Acetaminophen
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT03121963
SponsorUniversity of Alabama at Birmingham
Last Modified on24 January 2021


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Inclusion Criteria

Is your age between 18 yrs and 69 yrs?
Gender: Male or Female
Do you have Analgesia?
Do you have any of these conditions: Analgesia or pain control or managed pain or pain management or pain therapy or pain relieving?
age 18-69
able to consent for themselves
undergoing a "moderate" head and neck surgery at UAB, defined as procedures that generally require only 1-2 night stay in the hospital. For the purposes of this protocol, this will include patients undergoing neck dissections, glossectomy with primary closure, thyroidectomy, or parotidectomy

Exclusion Criteria

age < 18 or > 69
unable to consent for themselves
have a known opioid tolerance or are one a home opioid regimen prior to surgery
known hepatic failure, renal failure, or sulfa allergy, as determined by standard of care labs drawn within 30 days of enrollment
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