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, 76 (2), 159-67

Antidepressant Drugs for Postsurgical Pain: Current Status and Future Directions


Antidepressant Drugs for Postsurgical Pain: Current Status and Future Directions

Ian Gilron. Drugs.


Current treatments for postsurgical pain are often inadequate and adverse effects are substantial such that residual pain and/or side effects impair recovery. The recognition of analgesic efficacy with antidepressant drugs for chronic pain suggests the potential for efficacy in acute postsurgical pain. As reviewed here, current evidence suggests that approximately half of previous trials suggest efficacy of various antidepressants for acute postoperative pain. However, most trials are older with deficiencies including: lack of designation of a primary outcome, no assessment of movement-evoked pain, small size and limited safety assessment. Only one of three trials addressing prevention of chronic postsurgical pain suggested any efficacy; however, the evidence base for this indication is limited. Thus, current evidence does not yet support routine use of any one specific antidepressant for treatment of acute, or prevention of chronic, postsurgical pain. However, limitations in available trials are such that one cannot yet rule out the possibility that one or more antidepressant drugs may provide benefit in specific populations. Therefore, future larger trials should explore optimal dosing and duration of antidepressant treatment, procedure specificity, safety evaluation, and assessment of movement-evoked pain.

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