Postoperative pain can limit the recovery of children undergoing craniotomy for tumor resection, and pain management is highly variable between institutions and practitioners. Nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are effective in treating postoperative pain following craniotomy, but their use has been limited by concerns about postoperative hemorrhage. The risk of postoperative hemorrhage is not insignificant in patients undergoing craniotomy for tumor resection. No study has specifically addressed the safety of NSAIDs in the immediate postoperative setting following craniotomy for tumor resection in pediatric patients.
The authors performed a retrospective cohort study in patients younger than 18 years of age who underwent craniotomy for tumor resection at a single tertiary referral center between 2009 and 2019. The study outcomes were 1) postoperative hemorrhage requiring return to the operating room for decompression, evacuation, or CSF diversion for hemorrhage-associated hydrocephalus; and 2) more-than-minimal hemorrhage on routine postoperative imaging. Patients receiving any NSAID in the hospital formulary on the same day as surgery (postoperative day zero [POD0]) were designated as such.
Two hundred seventy-six children underwent 308 craniotomies for tumor resection over the study period. One hundred fifty-four patients (50.0%) received at least one dose of an NSAID on POD0. Six patients (1.9%) required a return to the operating room for a hemorrhagic complication, including 3 who received an NSAID on POD0 (OR 1.00, 95% CI 0.20–5.03). Seventeen patients (6.3% of patients imaged) had more-than-minimal hemorrhage on routine postoperative imaging, 9 of whom received an NSAID on POD0 (OR 1.08, 95% CI 0.40–2.89).
Use of NSAIDs on POD0 was not associated with either an increased risk of hemorrhage requiring a return to the operating room or asymptomatic hemorrhage on routine postoperative imaging. The overall incidence of clinically significant postoperative intracranial hemorrhage is low. These data support the use of NSAIDs as a safe measure for pain control in the postoperative setting for children undergoing craniotomy for tumor resection.