Abdominal Surgery Recovery

Health Watch

The CDC says prescription opioid overuse for pain management costs the U.S. at least $78 billion a year. Now, there’s a new way patients are getting back on their feet faster after surgery.

Steve Milton loves doting on his garden and his dog. But chronic, searing pain in his digestive tract almost kept him from doing either.

Steve Milton said, “I had a real difficult five months prior to my operation.”

3 ER visits. 1 hospitalization. Never-ending infections. Doctors put him on antibiotics for diverticulitis.

Milton said, “They tried a variety of drugs. Actually, they had bad reactions to one of the drugs and was hospitalized.”

Surgery was next with a new way to handle Milton’s pain afterwards.

Mark Horattas, MD, Chair of Surgery, Cleveland Clinic Akron General said, “It prevents patients from developing post-operative pain. It accelerates their recovery so they’re in bed less and getting less post-operative complications.”

A combination of pain blockers and local anesthetics are placed right next to the incision before surgery. And they last up to three days after the operation which reduces the need for opioids.

Doctor Horattas said, “Opioids were associated with problems with delayed bowel function.”

The new approach cut the days in the hospital by more than half, and the use of morphine by 80 percent.

Doctor Horattas said, “They feel better, they’re happier and they have less pain.”

Milton was up and walking around four hours after his surgery. Went home in two days. And was back at work Monday only taking Tylenol.

Steve Milton said, “I’m a new man from what was a real potential life-threatening situation.”

According to Doctor Horattas, this recovery protocol can be used on all abdominal surgery patients and is being expanded to those going through breast surgery.

He hopes to get the protocol approved for all surgeries that require the use of opioids. Nearly 30 percent of patients prescribed opioids for pain misuse them.

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