Nicotine nasal spray as an adjuvant analgesic for third molar surgery

J Oral Maxillofac Surg. 2011 May;69(5):1316-9. doi: 10.1016/j.joms.2010.07.025. Epub 2011 Jan 21.


Purpose: To determine the efficacy of preoperatively administered nicotine nasal spray (3 mg) for analgesia after third molar (TM) surgery.

Materials and methods: A single-center, prospective, randomized, double-blind, crossover trial was conducted. The study population consisted of 20 nonsmoking patients referred to the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery of Columbia University College of Dental Medicine for extraction of all 4 TMs. Each patient received nicotine nasal spray or placebo spray before TM surgery. At a subsequent visit the contralateral TMs were removed with prior administration of the alternate treatment. For an hour postoperatively, subjects reported information on pain and nausea, and hemodynamic variables were recorded at 15-minute intervals. Telephone follow-up was recorded for 5 days postoperatively, where patients reported information on pain, nausea, and use of hydrocodone/acetaminophen as rescue analgesia.

Results: Nicotine treatment was associated with a highly significant decrease in pain reported during the 5 days after TM surgery. There was no difference in the amount of hydrocodone/acetaminophen used or amount of nausea reported. There was a small but significant increase in heart rate after nicotine treatment compared with placebo during the first hour after surgery. There was no difference in blood pressure between groups.

Conclusion: Pain is well controlled by hydrocodone/acetaminophen in most patients after TM surgery. However, there is significant variability in pain reported. Nicotinic agonists represent a new class of analgesic that can be considered for patients who are expected to have significant opioid-resistant pain after TM surgery. Caution should be used with patients in whom a small increase in heart rate would be deleterious.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Acetaminophen / therapeutic use
  • Administration, Intranasal
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Analgesics / administration & dosage
  • Analgesics / therapeutic use*
  • Analgesics, Non-Narcotic / therapeutic use
  • Analgesics, Opioid / therapeutic use
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Ganglionic Stimulants / therapeutic use*
  • Heart Rate / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Hydrocodone / therapeutic use
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Molar, Third / surgery*
  • Nicotine / administration & dosage
  • Nicotine / therapeutic use*
  • Pain, Postoperative / prevention & control
  • Placebos
  • Postoperative Nausea and Vomiting / prevention & control
  • Premedication*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult


  • Analgesics
  • Analgesics, Non-Narcotic
  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Ganglionic Stimulants
  • Placebos
  • Acetaminophen
  • Nicotine
  • Hydrocodone