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Mayo Clinic Proceedings: Review of Pain Management Practices for Cirrhosis Patients

ROCHESTER, Minn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--May 26, 2010 - In the May issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings, physician experts review current practices for pain management in cirrhotic patients. The physician experts reviewed all current literature available on PubMed and MEDLINE with no limits in the search to recommend a uniform and practical guide to approaching analgesia in the cirrhotic patients.

Cirrhosis is a substantial public health problem, accounting for approximately 770,000 deaths annually and, according to autopsy studies, affecting 4.5 percent to 9.5 percent of the global population. “Pain management in patients with cirrhosis is a difficult clinical challenge for health care professionals, and few prospective studies have offered an evidence-based approach,” says Kymberly Watt, M.D., Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at Mayo Clinic.

No evidence-based guidelines exist on the use of analgesics in patients with liver disease and cirrhosis, says Dr. Watt. From her findings in the current literature, her recommendation for long-term acetaminophen use in cirrhotic patients (not actively drinking alcohol) is for reduced dosing at 2 to 3 grams per day. For short-term use or one-time dosing, patient should not exceed 4 grams total per day but the proposed new FDA guidelines (yet to be finalized) may recommend a maximum daily dosage of 2.6 grams per day for anyone.

In addition, the review article states that NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) and opioids may be used in patients with chronic liver disease without cirrhosis. “NSAIDs should be avoided in those with both compensated and decompensated cirrhosis, primarily because of the risk of acute renal failure due to prostaglandin inhibition,” says Dr. Watt.

“When appropriate, anticonvulsants and antidepressants are options worthy of exploration in chronic neuropathic pain management in patients with advanced liver disease. Diligent follow-up for toxicity, adverse effects and complications is necessary,” adds Dr. Watt.

“In patients with end-stage liver disease, adverse events from analgesics are frequent, potentially fatal and often avoidable. This review underscores the scarcity of prospective studies that have assessed the safety of various analgesics in patients with advanced hepatic dysfunction,” says Dr. Watt.

A peer-reviewed journal, Mayo Clinic Proceedings publishes original articles and reviews dealing with clinical and laboratory medicine, clinical research, basic science research and clinical epidemiology. Mayo Clinic Proceedings is published monthly by Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research as part of its commitment to the medical education of physicians. The journal has been published for more than 80 years and has a circulation of 130,000 nationally and internationally. Articles are available online at www.mayoclinicproceedings.com.

About Mayo Clinic

For more than 100 years, millions of people from all walks of life have found answers at Mayo Clinic. These patients tell us they leave Mayo Clinic with peace of mind knowing they received care from the world's leading experts. Mayo Clinic is the first and largest integrated, not-for-profit group practice in the world. At Mayo Clinic, a team of specialists is assembled to take the time to listen, understand and care for patients' health issues and concerns. These teams draw from more than 3,700 physicians and scientists and 50,100 allied staff that work at Mayo Clinic's campuses in Minnesota, Florida, and Arizona; and community-based providers in more than 70 locations in southern Minnesota, western Wisconsin and northeast Iowa. These locations treat more than half a million people each year. To best serve patients, Mayo Clinic works with many insurance companies, does not require a physician referral in most cases and is an in-network provider for millions of people. To obtain the latest news releases from Mayo Clinic, go to www.mayoclinic.org/news. For information about research and education, visit www.mayo.edu. MayoClinic.com (www.mayoclinic.com) is available as a resource for your general health information.

 

Contact: Mayo Clinic
Rebecca Finseth
507-284-5005 (days)
507-284-2511 (evenings)
e-mail: newsbureau@mayo.edu

 

Posted: May 2010

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