Minimizing opioid consumption following robotic surgery
The American opioid epidemic has led to one of the worse public health crises in recent history, and emerging evidence has highlighted the role of healthcare professionals in exposing patients and communities to potent opioid drugs. Surgeons, in treating postoperative pain, are at the forefront of this epidemic. In Urology, investigators are beginning to establish how patients handle and consume opioids following common urologic procedures in an effort to limit excess prescribing. However, there is a paucity of data to define acceptable amounts of opioid medications to adequately treat postoperative pain after urologic surgery. Many common urologic procedures are now routinely performed with robotic technology. Robotic, minimally-invasive approaches decrease incision size and accelerate postoperative recovery, thereby presenting a unique opportunity to curb excessive opioid prescribing in the postoperative patient. Herein, we explore the roots of the current crisis, outline current literature guiding pain control after surgery, and review the current, though sparse, literature that may guide urologists in decreasing opioid use after robotic surgery.