Children admitted to the ICU are commonly treated with opioids for postoperative pain. We hypothesized that administration of IV acetaminophen in the immediate postoperative period is effective in lowering cumulative opioid use leading to other benefits.
This was a retrospective chart review of patients admitted to the PICU between December 2016 and April 2019. For each patient, data including demographics, cumulative opioid usage per kilogram, oral or rectal acetaminophen, x-ray findings, hospital costs, and surgical procedure were collected. Cumulative opioid usage was determined by converting all opioids to morphine equivalents (MEs) per kg. Standard descriptive and comparative analyses were conducted using SAS 9.4 (SAS Institute, Inc, Cary, NC).
A total of 200 patients met inclusion and exclusion criteria (N = 92 in IV acetaminophen group and N = 108 in no IV acetaminophen group). There was no significant difference in ME per kilogram between the groups (0.3 ME/kg in IV acetaminophen group, IQR 0.5 ME/kg versus 0.4 ME/kg in no IV acetaminophen group, IQR 0.5 ME/kg, adjusted p = 0.38). Rate of atelectasis was not significant between the groups (47.8% in IV acetaminophen versus 45.4% in no acetaminophen group, p = 0.28). There was a significant difference in median total hospital costs between the groups ($22,456 in IV acetaminophen group, IQR $18,650 versus $18,552 in no IV acetaminophen group, IQR $13,361, adjusted p = 0.04).
IV acetaminophen in the immediate postoperative period did not lead to a decrease in cumulative opioid usage or rate of atelectasis. IV acetaminophen usage was associated with increase in overall hospital costs per patient.