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Gabapentin and Pregabalin for the Acute Post-operative Pain Management. A Systematic-narrative Review of the Recent Clinical Evidences

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Background: Gabapentin and pregabalin inhibit Ca2+ currents via high-voltage-activated channels containing the α2δ-1 subunit, reducing neurotransmitter release and attenuating the postsynaptic excitability. They are antiepileptic drugs successfully used also for the chronic pain treatment. A large number of clinical trials indicate that gabapentin and pregabalin could be effective as postoperative analgesics. This systematic-narrative review aims to analyse the most recent evidences regarding the effect of gabapentinoids on postoperative pain treatment.

Methods: Medline, The Cochrane Library, EMBASE and CINHAL were searched for recent (2006-2009) randomized clinical trials (RCTs) of gabapentin-pregabalin for postoperative pain relief in adults. Quality of RCTs was evaluated according to Jadad method. Visual analogue scale (VAS), opioid consumption and side-effects (nausea, vomiting, dizziness and sedation) were considered the most important outcomes.

Results: An overall of 22 gabapentin (1640 patients), 8 pregabalin (707 patients) RCTs and seven meta-analysis were involved in this review. Gabapentin provided better post-operative analgesia and rescue analgesics sparing than placebo in 6 of the 10 RCTs that administered only pre-emptive analgesia. Fourteen RCTs suggested that gabapentin did not reduce PONV when compared with placebo, clonidine or lornoxicam. Pregabalin provided better post-operative analgesia and rescue analgesics sparing than placebo in two of the three RCTs that evaluated the effects of pregabalin alone vs placebo. Four studies reported no pregabalin effects on preventing the PONV.

Conclusion: Gabapentin and pregabalin reduce pain and opioid consumption after surgery in confront with placebo, but comparisons with other standard post-operative regimens are not sufficient. Gabapentin and pregabalin seem not to have any influence on the prevention of PONV.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2009-08-01

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  • Current Drug Targets aims to cover the latest and most outstanding developments on the medicinal chemistry and pharmacology of molecular drug targets e.g. disease specific proteins, receptors, enzymes, genes. Each issue of the journal will be devoted to a single timely topic, with series of in-depth reviews, written by leaders in the field, covering a range of current topics on drug targets. These issues will be organized and led by a guest editor who is a recognized expert in the overall topic. As the discovery, identification, characterisation and validation of novel human drug targets for drug discovery continues to grow; this journal will be essential reading for all pharmaceutical scientists involved in drug discovery and development.
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