Subcutaneous sumatriptan: association with decreases in postoperative pain and opioid use after elective cranial surgery

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OBJECTIVE

Sumatriptan, a serotonin receptor agonist, has been used in the management of primary headache disorders and has been shown to affect trigeminal dural afferents. There is limited literature on the safety and efficacy of sumatriptan for postcraniotomy pain management. This study aimed to identify whether subcutaneous sumatriptan is a safe and efficacious pain management strategy after elective craniotomy.

METHODS

The authors retrospectively reviewed patients who underwent supratentorial or suboccipital craniotomy between 2016 and 2019 that was performed by a single provider at a single institution to identify patients given subcutaneous sumatriptan in the postoperative period. Pain scores and intravenous and oral opioid use were compared in patients with (n = 15) and without (n = 45) sumatriptan administration.

RESULTS

Patients with and without sumatriptan administration had no significant differences in baseline characteristics or surgery type. There were no sumatriptan-related complications. The average pain score decreased from 3.9 to 1.3 within 1 hour after sumatriptan administration (p = 0.014). In both adult and pediatric patients there was decreased postoperative pain (adults: pain score of 1.1 vs 7.1, p < 0.001; pediatric: 1.1 vs 3.9, p = 0.007) within the first 48 hours. There were decreases in intravenous opioid use, length of intravenous opioid use, maximum dose of intravenous opioid used, oral opioid use, length of oral opioid use, and maximum dose of oral opioid used in both adult and pediatric patients.

CONCLUSIONS

The authors identified subcutaneous sumatriptan as a safe and efficacious tool for postoperative pain management after craniotomy. Large multicenter randomized controlled studies are needed to further evaluate the specific role of sumatriptan in postoperative pain management after craniotomy.

ABBREVIATIONS PACU = postanesthesia recovery unit; SAH = subarachnoid hemorrhage; 5-HT = 5-hydroxytryptamine (serotonin); 5-HT(1B/1D) = serotonin receptor.
Article Information

Contributor Notes

Correspondence Anthony C. Wang: University of California, Los Angeles, CA. acwang@mednet.ucla.edu.INCLUDE WHEN CITING Published online January 3, 2020; DOI: 10.3171/2019.10.JNS192503.Disclosures The authors report no conflict of interest concerning the materials or methods used in this study or the findings specified in this paper.
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