May 28, 2014

Ice Packs Lessen Post-op Pain and Narcotic Use

A simple, cost effective ice pack helps to reduce pain following major abdominal surgery and decreases the use of narcotic pain relievers. Those are the findings of a new study lead by Viraj A. Master, MD, PhD, associate professor of urology at the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University.

The study, published on-line in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons, looked at a group of patients who applied soft ice packs to their incision after major open abdominal surgery compared to patients who did not use an ice pack. The patients who used ice packs reported significantly less pain than those who did not apply ice to their surgical wounds.

“An ice pack is easy to use, and is safe and inexpensive,” says Master. “No high-tech devices or costly procedures are involved. If the ice pack becomes too cold, all the patient has to do is remove it.”

While other studies have shown that the application of ice on a surgical wound is safe and effective in reducing pain following surgery, this is the first time investigators have looked at the approach for major abdominal operations. This study represents one of few randomized trials in surgery.

Master’s research colleagues from Winship included surgical oncology colleagues, David A. Kooby, MD, Charles A. Staley, MD, and Shishir K. Maithel, MD.

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