Nicotine Administration and Post-operative Opioid Use With Bariatric Surgery


About this study

Though nicotine is known to be a mild analgesic, its use in the peri-operative period to reduce postoperative opioid requirements has only recently been investigated. In nonsmokers it has been shown to reduce postoperative pain and opioid requirements in both female patients undergoing uterine surgery and male patients undergoing prostatectomy. We have recently confirmed these findings in women undergoing uterine surgery by open, laparoscopic and vaginal approaches. In this study we found a 30% mean reduction of 24 hour postoperative opioid requirements following the administration of a 3 mg dose of nicotine nasal spray. Two previous studies with perioperative transdermal nicotine found that increasing doses of nicotine and increasing serum levels of nicotine were associated with higher rates of nausea. In our study, we found that the administration of nasal nicotine was associated with a transient increase of postoperative nausea and vomiting (PONV), but this was limited to the recovery room (PACU) stay. Two studies of nasal nicotine where antiemetics were prophylactically administered did not report the incidence of nausea. In our study, antiemetics were used as rescue medications only. Thus, it is unclear if the prophylactic administration of anti-emetics would effectively counteract the transient emetogenic effect of a small dose of nasal nicotine.

Laparoscopic bariatric surgery is becoming an increasingly popular treatment of morbid obesity. We recently performed a detailed analysis of postoperative pain and opioid requirements among patients that had this type of surgery and found that among non-smokers severe pain (pain >7/10 on a 10 point scale) was commonly experienced (35%) despite substantial amount of postoperative opioid use (mean 68 mg oral morphine equivalents) and non-opioid analgesics in the first 24 hours. Because obesity related sleep disorders exceed 70% of patients undergoing bariatric surgery, and those disorders are exacerbated by opioids, potential therapies that could reduce postoperative opioid requirements in these patients have substantial value. Further, delayed nausea often poses a problem for these patients meeting hospital discharge criteria, and opioids used for analgesia aggravates this problem. Thus, the use of nasal nicotine could reduce the amount of opioid these patients require for postoperative analgesia. Combined with aggressive antiemetic prophylaxis against PONV, nasal nicotine could paradoxically and indirectly reduce the incidence of nausea in these patients by decreasing postoperative opioid requirements. The proposed study is a randomized clinical trial examining how nicotine affects recovery of female non-smokers undergoing bariatric surgery from general anesthesia. We will test the hypothesis that nicotine, administered in a nasal spray immediately before emergence from anesthesia, will reduce postoperative opioid requirement and postoperative pain. A secondary outcome is to assess if the routine administration of prophylactic antiemetic therapy prevents increased PONV associated with nicotine administration.

Participation eligibility

Participant eligibility includes age, gender, type and stage of disease, and previous treatments or health concerns. Guidelines differ from study to study, and identify who can or cannot participate. There is no guarantee that every individual who qualifies and wants to participate in a trial will be enrolled. Contact the study team to discuss study eligibility and potential participation.

Inclusion Criteria:

  • Female
  • Lifelong, non-smoking
  • Undergoing bariatric surgery

Participating Mayo Clinic locations

Study statuses change often. Please contact the study team for the most up-to-date information regarding possible participation.

Mayo Clinic Location Status

Rochester, Minn.

Mayo Clinic principal investigator

Toby Weingarten, M.D.

Closed for enrollment

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