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This article is the author's final version prior to the publication in Journal of Surgical Research, Volume 278, October 2022, Pages 293-302.

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INTRODUCTION: Achieving satisfactory post-operative pain control for common elective general surgical procedures, while minimizing opioid utilization, remains challenging. Utilizing pre-operative educational strategies, as well as multimodal analgesia, we sought to reduce the post-operative opioid use in elective general surgery cases.

METHODS: Between November 2019 and July 2021, patients undergoing elective inguinal hernia repair or cholecystectomy were enrolled in the study. Patients were divided into three cohorts: Control, opioid sparing (OS), or zero-opioid (ZO). Control patients did not have any intervention; OS patients had an opioid reduction intervention protocol applied (patient education and perioperative multimodal analgesia) and were provided an opioid prescription at discharge; the ZO had the same protocol, however, patients were not provided opioid prescriptions at discharge. Two weeks after discharge, patients were interviewed to record opioid consumption, pain scores, and level of satisfaction since discharge.

RESULTS: A total of 129 patients were recruited for the study. Eighty-eight patients underwent inguinal hernia repair and 41 patients underwent cholecystectomy. Median post-operative morphine equivalents consumed in the Control cohort (n = 58); 46 (37.5-75) were significantly reduced when the OS protocol was enacted (n = 42); 15 (11-22.5) and further reduced to zero for every patient in the ZO cohort (n = 29) (P = 0.0001). There were no differences in patient-reported average pain scores after discharge (P = 0.08) or satisfaction levels with experience (P = 0.8302).

CONCLUSIONS: Our study demonstrates that patient education and preoperative interventions can result in zero opioids prescribed after common general surgery procedures with equivalent patient satisfaction and pain scores.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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