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Med Hypotheses. 2015 Jun;84(6):529-31. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2015.02.008. Epub 2015 Mar 6.

Preoperative ultra-rapid opiate detoxification for the treatment of post-operative surgical pain.

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Emory University School of Medicine, Department of Anesthesiology, USA. Electronic address:
University of Michigan Medical School, Department of Anesthesiology, USA.
University of Michigan Medical School, Department of Pharmacology, USA.


Over the past two decades, the prescription of high dose opiate therapy has continued to accelerate in an attempt to treat patients with chronic pain. This presents a substantial challenge when patients on high dose opiate therapy require surgery, as opiate pain relief is a cornerstone of postoperative pain management. These patients have exceptionally challenging pain to control. This is likely due to downregulation of existing opiate receptors and the reluctance of clinicians to increase doses of opiates to exceptionally high levels to facilitate pain relief. We hypothesize that using the method of ultra-rapid opiate detoxification (UROD), it would be possible to rapidly increase the number of opiate receptors and return patients to a more naive state, which would be susceptible to exogenous opiate administration. Validation of this hypothesis is supported by two mechanisms, the first of which are reports of patients that underwent UROD for opiate addition that subsequently suffer respiratory arrests when beginning to rapidly abuse opiates shortly after treatment. Additionally there are data demonstrating the tapering of opiate therapy prior to elective surgery results in better pain control. In conclusion, we hypothesize that patients on chronic high dose opiates could obtain substantially better pain relief if they underwent UROD prior to surgery. This technique could be administered shortly before surgery and may dramatically improve the patients' recoveries.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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