IV Acetaminophen Results in Lower Hospital Costs and Emergency Room Visits Following Bariatric Surgery: a Double-Blind, Prospective, Randomized Trial in a Single Accredited Bariatric Center

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Journal of gastrointestinal surgery : official journal of the Society for Surgery of the Alimentary Tract


BACKGROUND: Postoperative pain control in bariatric surgery is challenging, despite use of intravenous (IV) narcotics. IV acetaminophen is one pain control alternative. OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to investigate the economic impact of IV acetaminophen in bariatric surgery and its effect on patients' pain, satisfaction, and hospital length of stay. METHODS: In a randomized controlled trial, Group 1 (treatment) received IV acetaminophen plus IV narcotics 30 min before surgery, then medication plus IV narcotics/PO narcotics for the remaining 18 h. Group 2 (control) received IV normal saline plus IV/PO narcotics. Patients underwent laparoscopic Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (LRYGB) or laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy (SG). Primary outcomes included direct hospital costs, length of stay, postoperative pain, and patient satisfaction. Secondary outcomes included indirect costs, rescue narcotics dosage, and 30-day outcomes. RESULTS: Mean direct hospital cost in the treatment group (n = 50) was $3089.18 versus $2991.62 for the control group (n = 50) (p > 0.05). Pain scores did not differ significantly (p = 0.61). After adjusting for surgery type, there was no significant difference in length of stay (p = 0.95). Significantly more control group patients incurred surgery-related indirect costs (10 versus 2%, p < 0.05), with greater presentation to the emergency department (ED) for abdominal pain (5/50 versus 1/50), yielding higher total indirect costs ($39,293 versus $13,185). CONCLUSIONS: Using IV acetaminophen for postoperative pain management produced notable indirect cost savings and reduced ED visits in the first 30 days postoperatively, with good safety and tolerance. Decreased statistical power may have accounted for certain non-significant findings.

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