Buprenorphine management in the perioperative period: educational review and recommendations from a multisociety expert panel

Reg Anesth Pain Med. 2021 Oct;46(10):840-859. doi: 10.1136/rapm-2021-103007. Epub 2021 Aug 12.


Background: The past two decades have witnessed an epidemic of opioid use disorder (OUD) in the USA, resulting in catastrophic loss of life secondary to opioid overdoses. Medication treatment of opioid use disorder (MOUD) is effective, yet barriers to care continue to result in a large proportion of untreated individuals. Optimal analgesia can be obtained in patients with MOUD within the perioperative period. Anesthesiologists and pain physicians can recommend and consider initiating MOUD in patients with suspected OUD at the point of care; this can serve as a bridge to comprehensive treatment and ultimately save lives.

Methods: The Board of Directors of the American Society of Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine, American Society of Anesthesiologists, American Academy of Pain Medicine, American Society of Addiction Medicine and American Society of Health System Pharmacists approved the creation of a Multisociety Working Group on Opioid Use Disorder, representing the fields of pain medicine, addiction, and pharmacy health sciences. An extensive literature search was performed by members of the working group. Multiple study types were included and reviewed for quality. A modified Delphi process was used to assess the literature and expert opinion for each topic, with 100% consensus being achieved on the statements and each recommendation. The consensus statements were then graded by the committee members using the United States Preventive Services Task Force grading of evidence guidelines. In addition to the consensus recommendations, a narrative overview of buprenorphine, including pharmacology and legal statutes, was performed.

Results: Two core topics were identified for the development of recommendations with >75% consensus as the goal for consensus; however, the working group achieved 100% consensus on both topics. Specific topics included (1) providing recommendations to aid physicians in the management of patients receiving buprenorphine for MOUD in the perioperative setting and (2) providing recommendations to aid physicians in the initiation of buprenorphine in patients with suspected OUD in the perioperative setting.

Conclusions: To decrease the risk of OUD recurrence, buprenorphine should not be routinely discontinued in the perioperative setting. Buprenorphine can be initiated in untreated patients with OUD and acute pain in the perioperative setting to decrease the risk of opioid recurrence and death from overdose.

Keywords: analgesics; opioid; opioid-related disorders; pain; pain management; pharmacology; postoperative.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Pain* / drug therapy
  • Analgesics, Opioid / adverse effects
  • Buprenorphine* / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Opioid-Related Disorders* / diagnosis
  • Opioid-Related Disorders* / epidemiology
  • Opioid-Related Disorders* / prevention & control
  • Pain Management
  • United States


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Buprenorphine