Pain medication use after spine surgery: is it assessed in the literature? A systematic review, January 2000–December 2009
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Abstract Background Spine surgery is one of the most difficult areas in which to achieve a good clinical outcome and pain medication is often used for a long period of time after surgery. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether pain medication use after spine surgery has been assessed previously with respect to clinical outcome. Methods A systematic review of PubMed/MEDLINE databases was conducted from Jan 1st 2000 to Dec 31st 2009 using the search key words, “spine surgery” and “clinical outcome.” All publications reporting clinical outcomes were examined and analyzed for outcome measures and data with respect to pain medication use after spine surgery. Results In total 990 articles met the inclusion criteria. Among them, 56 articles (5.7%) described definitive pain medication use after spine surgery; 98 articles (9.9%) used clinical outcome measures that incorporate pain medication assessment, although only one such study included a definitive description of pain medication use. Conclusions Pain medication use after spine surgery was assessed in 15.5% of articles published during the last decade. The use of pain medication following spine surgery can affect clinical outcome and, therefore, needs to be taken into consideration for clinical assessment. In future studies, a detailed description of pain medication use and/or clinical outcome measures that incorporate pain medication assessment are advocated when reporting clinical outcomes after spine surgery so that it can be better assessed.