Patch for post-surgical pain

A patch that delivers pain medication through the skin is just as effective and more convenient than medication delivered by an intravenous pump for post-surgical pain, according to a new study.

After major surgery, patients are frequently able to administer their own small doses of opioids, such as fentanyl and morphine, to control their pain. They often use an IV pump with morphine, which entails a needle, intravenous tubing, and a large pump. Now, researchers say a credit card-sized self-adhesive unit can be worn on the patient’s upper arm or chest, and it can deliver the same pain relief as the IV unit.

The patch delivers small doses of fentanyl through the skin and into the bloodstream, which then transports the medicine to the central nervous system. The patch eliminates the need for needles, and it does not affect a patient’s mobility.

After a 24-hour treatment, doctors at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia found 73 percent of patients using the fentanyl patches reported good or excellent pain control, and 77 percent of patients using IV pumps described the same pain relief. Doctors say the same pain relief was reported by more than 80 percent of the patients in each treatment group for up to 48 or 72 hours. The incidence of side effects was similar between the two groups.

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