Pediatric Chiari I malformation decompression is a common neurosurgical procedure. Liposomal bupivacaine (LB) is a novel formulation that can have an impact on postoperative recovery for particular procedures, but its potential role in pediatric neurosurgery is largely unexplored. The authors sought to describe and assess their initial experience with LB in pediatric Chiari I malformation decompression to better define its potential role as an analgesic agent in a procedure for which the postoperative course is often remarkably painful.
A retrospective review of all pediatric Chiari procedures performed at the authors’ institution between 2018 and 2020 was conducted. Patients were divided into those who were treated with a single intraoperative dose of LB (LB group) and those who were not (control group). Comparisons of total opioid use and pain control were made using chi-square and Wilcoxon rank-sum tests.
A total of 18 patients were identified, 9 (50%) in the LB group and 9 (50%) in the control group. Overall, there were 13 (72%) female and 5 (28%) male patients with a mean age of 15.9 years. No surgical complications were observed over a mean length of stay of 2.7 days. Within the first 24 hours after surgery, the LB group had significantly lower total opioid use than the control group (17.5 vs 47.9 morphine milligram equivalents, respectively; p = 0.03) as well as lower mean pain scores reported by patients using a 10-point visual analog scale (3.6 vs 5.5 for the LB vs control groups, p = 0.04). However, from the first 24 postoperative hours to discharge, total opioid use (p = 0.51) and mean pain scores (p = 0.09) were statistically comparable between the two groups. There were 2/9 (22%) LB patients versus 0/9 (0%) control patients who did not require opioid analgesia at any point during hospitalization.
The use of a single intraoperative dose of LB in pediatric Chiari I malformation surgery appears to be safe and has the potential to reduce pain scores and opioid use when administered during the first 24 postoperative hours. From that time period to discharge, however, there may be no significant difference in total opioid use or pain scores.