A researcher from Northwell Health’s Feinstein Institute for Medical Research in the US has identified a new pain regimen to aid breast cancer patients’ recovery after microsurgical reconstruction.

Discovered by Northwell Health Surgery department vice-chair Mark Smith, the regimen is intended to eliminate the need for post-operative oral and intravenous narcotic medications, which could lead to abuse or side-effects.

The new approach uses non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory medication as an alternative for opioids, along with long-acting nerve blocks to reduce the pain locally at the surgical site.

With the new regimen, the patients are reported to have experienced less pain without the opioid side-effects such as grogginess and nausea.

Smith said: “This allowed them to get up and walk sooner and leave the hospital on their second day instead of the national average of four to five days.

“Our patients are pleased to be back to their lives more quickly and relieved not to deal with opioid side effects or risk of dependence.”

“Our patients are pleased to be back to their lives more quickly and relieved not to deal with opioid side effects or risk of dependence.”

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In combination with the anaesthetic injections of liposomal bupivacaine, the researchers used transversus abdominis plane (TAP) block method.

Approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for direct injection into wounds, liposomal bupivacaine is said to provide pain relief locally from two to three days.

Smith expects that this research would allow further investigation of long-term blocks for better outcomes and aid in obtaining FDA approval for liposomal bupivacaine for nerve blocks.

Various hospitals in the country such as Long Island Jewish Medical Centre in New Hyde Park, North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset and Staten Island University Hospital have adopted the new regimen.