Rockford Spine Center’s Dr. Michael Roh recently spoke with physicians at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine about his work with a medication that helps patients better manage post-operative pain.
Liposomal bupivacaine (trade name Exparel®) is a long-lasting (36 hours) medication that can be injected at the time of surgery so patients experience significantly less pain after a procedure. Dr. Roh called it a “game-changer” and has used the medication for certain surgeries since 2014.
“Pain control is a vital component of patient satisfaction,” Dr. Roh said. “Studies have shown that the No. 1 determinant of patient satisfaction during surgery is whether or not the surgery accomplished its goals. The second-most important is how much pain they have following the procedure.”
In addition to patients being more comfortable after surgery, using liposomal bupivacaine reduces the need for narcotics to help manage pain – a critical step in minimizing opioid use at a time when the country is dealing with an opioid crisis.
Dr. Roh uses the medication primarily for lumbar fusions, which can be more painful because they involve a lot of movement of the back muscles so surgeons can monitor the spinal cord to safely and efficiently complete the surgeries.
USC surgeons are interested in incorporating liposomal bupivacaine into their spine surgeries. Dr. Roh has a large body of work and research looking at the medication’s effectiveness and is preparing a scientific manuscript for publication. Research has shown the use of liposomal bupivacaine also saves significant health care dollars because patients don’t need Foley catheters or pain pumps.
Dr. Roh said it has “revolutionized” the practice. Among the most compelling evidence in favor of using the medication is feedback from patients who’ve had repeat surgeries and report less pain.
“We are setting the pace and on the cutting edge right here in Rockford, not just with surgical techniques but also in providing the optimal surgical experience for our patients,” Dr. Roh said.