Peripartum pain management in opioid dependent women

Eur J Pain. 2012 Apr;16(4):574-84. doi: 10.1016/j.ejpain.2011.08.008.


Increased pain sensitivity and the development of opioid tolerance complicate the treatment of pain experiencedby opioid maintained pregnantwomenduring delivery and the perinatal period. Theaim of the present study was to investigate differences in pain management of opioid maintained compared to nondependent pregnant women during delivery and the postpartum period. 40 deliveries of 37 opioid dependent women enrolled in a double-blind, double-dummy randomized controlled trial (RCT) examining the safety and efficacy of methadone (mean dose at the time of delivery = 63.89 mg) and buprenorphine (mean dose at the time of delivery = 14.05 mg) during pregnancy were analyzed and participants were matched to a non-dependent comparison group of 80 pregnant women. Differences in pain management (opioid and non-opioid analgesic medication) during delivery and perinatal period were analyzed. Following cesarean delivery opioid maintained women received significantly less opioid analgesics (day of delivery p = 0.038; day 1: p = 0.02), NSAIDs were administered more frequently to opioid dependent patients than to the comparison group during cesarean section and on the third day postpartum. Significantly higher nicotine consumption in the group of opioid dependentwomenhad a strong influence onthe retrieved results, and might be considered as an independent factor of altered pain experience. Differences in pain treatment became evident when comparing opioid maintained women to healthy controls. These differences might be based on psychosocial consequences of opioid addiction along with the lack of an interdisciplinary consensus on pain treatment protocols for opioid dependent patients.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analgesics / administration & dosage
  • Analgesics / therapeutic use
  • Buprenorphine / therapeutic use
  • Cesarean Section
  • Delivery, Obstetric
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Methadone / therapeutic use
  • Narcotics / administration & dosage
  • Narcotics / therapeutic use
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / complications*
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / rehabilitation
  • Pain Management / methods*
  • Peripartum Period / physiology*
  • Postpartum Period
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Smoking / adverse effects
  • Young Adult


  • Analgesics
  • Narcotics
  • Buprenorphine
  • Methadone