Opioid-free versus opioid-based anesthesia in pancreatic surgery

Stéphane Hublet, Marianne Galland, Julie Navez, Patrizia Loi, Jean Closset, Patrice Forget, Pierre Lafère* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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BACKGROUND: Opioid-free anesthesia (OFA) is associated with significantly reduced cumulative postoperative morphine consumption in comparison with opioid-based anesthesia (OBA). Whether OFA is feasible and may improve outcomes in pancreatic surgery remains unclear. 

METHODS: Perioperative data from 77 consecutive patients who underwent pancreatic resection were included and retrospectively reviewed. Patients received either an OBA with intraoperative remifentanil (n = 42) or an OFA (n = 35). OFA included a combination of continuous infusions of dexmedetomidine, lidocaine, and esketamine. In OBA, patients also received a single bolus of intrathecal morphine. All patients received intraoperative propofol, sevoflurane, dexamethasone, diclofenac, neuromuscular blockade. Postoperative pain management was achieved by continuous wound infiltration and patient-controlled morphine. The primary outcome was postoperative pain (Numerical Rating Scale, NRS). Opioid consumption within 48 h after extubation, length of stay, adverse events within 90 days, and 30-day mortality were included as secondary outcomes. Episodes of bradycardia and hypotension requiring rescue medication were considered as safety outcomes.

 RESULTS: Compared to OBA, NRS (3 [2-4] vs 0 [0-2], P < 0.001) and opioid consumption (36 [24-52] vs 10 [2-24], P = 0.005) were both less in the OFA group. Length of stay was shorter by 4 days with OFA (14 [7-46] vs 10 [6-16], P < 0.001). OFA (P = 0.03), with postoperative pancreatic fistula (P = 0.0002) and delayed gastric emptying (P < 0.0001) were identified as only independent factors for length of stay. The comprehensive complication index (CCI) was the lowest with OFA (24.9 ± 25.5 vs 14.1 ± 23.4, P = 0.03). There were no differences in demographics, operative time, blood loss, bradycardia, vasopressors administration or time to extubation among groups. 

CONCLUSIONS: In this series, OFA during pancreatic resection is feasible and independently associated with a better outcome, in particular pain outcomes. The lower rate of postoperative complications may justify future randomized trials to test the hypothesis that OFA may improve outcomes and shorten length of stay.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9
Number of pages9
JournalBMC Anesthesiology
Issue number1
Early online date4 Jan 2022
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jan 2022

Data Availability Statement

The datasets used and analyzed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.


  • Analgesics, Non-Narcotic / therapeutic use
  • Analgesics, Opioid / therapeutic use
  • Balanced Anesthesia / methods
  • Pain, Postoperative / drug therapy
  • Treatment Outcome


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