Effect of Topical Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs Around the Incision on Postoperative Pain in Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion Surgery: A Double-blind Randomized Controlled Trial

Pain Physician. 2023 Sep;26(5):467-473.


Background: How to minimize postoperative pain following spinal surgery has been a great challenge. We hypothesized that topical nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) around the incision could relieve postoperative pain following transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) surgery.

Objective: This study tested the effect of topical NSAIDs around the incision for pain management after TLIF surgery.

Study design: A double-blind randomized controlled trial.

Setting: Qilu Hospital of Shandong University.

Methods: Eighty patients who underwent single-level TLIF surgery were randomized into 2 groups. The treatment group received postoperative topical NSAIDs around the incision. The control group received a postoperative topical placebo around the incision. All patients in both groups received postoperative patient-controlled analgesia (PCA) via an analgesia pump. The primary outcome measures were the amount of opioid consumption and pain measurement via the visual analog scale (VAS). The secondary outcome measures were the time of first analgesic demand, operation time, postoperative drain output, side effects of opioids, postoperative stay, and Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) score.

Results: The consumption of opioids in the treatment group was significantly less than in the control group at postoperative 12 hours, 12 to 24 hours, and 24 to 48 hours (P < 0.005). The VAS in the treatment group was significantly lower than those in the control group at all assessment times within 72 hours postoperative (P < 0.005). The time of first analgesic demand of PCA in the treatment group was significantly longer than that in the control group (P < 0.005). The side effects of opioids were significantly less in the treatment group than in the control group (P < 0.05). There was no significant difference in operation time, postoperative drain output, postoperative stay, and ODI between the 2 groups (P > 0.05).

Limitations: This was a single-center study for single-level TLIF surgery.

Conclusion: Postoperative topical NSAID around the incision is a highly effective and safe method for postoperative pain management following single-level TLIF surgery. In our study it reduced postoperative opioid requirements and prolonged the time of first analgesic demand with no increased side effects.

Key words: Transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion, postoperative pain, NSAID, topical NSAID, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, loxoprofen.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics, Opioid / therapeutic use
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Lumbar Vertebrae* / surgery
  • Minimally Invasive Surgical Procedures / methods
  • Pain, Postoperative / drug therapy
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Spinal Fusion* / methods
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents

Associated data

  • ChiCTR/ChiCTR2200065402