Multimodal Analgesia and Opioid Use in Critically Ill Trauma Patients

Kasey L. Hamrick, Carl A. Beyer, Jin A. Lee, Christine S. Cocanour, Jeremiah J. Duby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Background: Opioids are the mainstay of pain management in critically ill trauma patients. However, the risks of opioid use mandate a different approach. Multimodal analgesia employs a combination of opioid and nonopioid agents using different mechanisms that have synergistic effects in treating pain. This study examines the effects of multimodal analgesia on the opioid requirements of critically ill trauma patients. Study Design: This was a pre-post cohort study of adult trauma ICU patients before and after implementation of a multimodal pain management order set. Patients were excluded if their hospital stay was less than 5 days, head Abbreviated Injury Scale score was greater than 1, or pre-injury medications included methadone or buprenorphine. The total oral morphine equivalent (OME) dose was calculated for each 24-hour period on days 2 through 5 of admission and the last 24 hours before discharge using standardized ratios. The primary endpoint was cumulative OME doses over the second through fifth days of admission. Results: There were 65 patients in the pre-group and 62 in the post-group. Median cumulative OME dose was significantly lower in the post-group (125.6 mg, interquartile range [IQR] 45.0 to 415.0 mg) compared with the pre-group (481.5 mg, IQR 174.8 to 881.3 mg), p < 0.001. Patients who received 3 or more multimodal agents had a lower cumulative OME dose (116.3 mg, IQR 52.5 to 496.5 mg) compared with those who were on 1 to 2 multimodal agents (363 mg, IQR 115.5 to 743 mg) or 0 multimodal agents (479 mg, IQR 185 to 736.5 mg), p = 0.024. There were no differences between pre-group and post-group mean pain scores on hospital day 5 (4.48 ± 0.34 vs 3.50 ± 0.38, p = 0.058) or at hospital discharge (3.43 ± 0.34 vs 3.56 ± 0.32, p = 0.789). Conclusions: Implementation of a multimodal pain management strategy significantly reduced opioid use in critically ill trauma patients without compromising patient comfort.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)769-775.e1
JournalJournal of the American College of Surgeons
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2019
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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