No pain is gain: A prospective evaluation of strict non-opioid pain control after pediatric appendectomy

Kristin M. Gee, R. Ellen Jones, Nicole Nevarez, Lauren E. McClain, Gentry Wools, Alana L. Beres

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Introduction: Opiates are often prescribed after pediatric operations despite safety concerns and lack of evidence confirming superiority compared to other pain control modalities. In this study, we use daily parental surveys to prospectively evaluate a strict non-opioid pain control strategy after laparoscopic appendectomy. Methods: After IRB approval, children who underwent laparoscopic appendectomy for nonperforated acute appendicitis were recruited to the study. For these patients, our standard practice is to provide instructions to administer alternating acetaminophen and ibuprofen over-the-counter (OTC) postoperatively, and no opiate prescriptions are written. Parents of enrolled children received a daily RedCap survey via text message or e-mail on postoperative days (POD) 1 through 5 to prospectively assess pain control and medication usage. Trends were compared across postoperative days. Results: One hundred twenty patients were enrolled in the study, and none received opiate prescriptions. Postoperative pain survey response rates were 54% on POD1, 47% on POD2, 35% on POD3, 34% on POD4, and 29% on POD5. Pain level was 4.7 ± 2.3 (out of 10) on POD1, and down-trended significantly each postoperative day to reach 0.7 ± 1.2 by POD5. On POD1, 85% of parents administered OTC medications, which reduced significantly to 14% by POD5. Parent-reported success rates to manage pain by OTC regimen were 85% on POD1, 94% on POD2, 91% on POD3, and 100% on POD4 and POD5. Conclusion: Strict non-opioid pain control after appendectomy exhibits high performance based upon prospective parental surveys. This strategy should be implemented as standard of care and tested for application to other surgical conditions. Level of Evidence: Level II.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1043-1047
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of pediatric surgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Appendicitis
  • Opioid misuse
  • Pediatric

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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