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Updated on April 23, 2013


Most people undergo some form of surgery at least once during their lifetime and all of us who have experienced being under the knife know only too well that the body needs time to recover, once the surgeon has completed his task.

3 years ago I had an operation to deal with a burst bowel. Prior to the operation the pain was absolutely excruciating and when admitted to Hospital, I was immediately given morphine on demand. After the operation, morphine was again on tap and enabled me to come through the experience. However, the morphine experience is one I would hope not to need again as it took away not only the pain but my sensible awareness inducing a state far removed from the norm. . I can only assume that it was the state often described as "stoned" in some circles.

Now, I have always used general painkillers with great caution, especially the type we can buy at the chemist in various forms and brands from aspirin to paracetamol etc. Others tend to use them almost by rote to deal with any form of pain from headaches and hangovers to wounds and blisters.Personally, I have always been wary of them as tales of addiction have always abounded.

For most of my lifetime these drugs have been the standard "go to" not only by sufferers but also by the profesional medics who have advanced the use of opiates with care to provide relief for all contingencies. Now however, a breakthrough in the USA, expected to soon be available in the UK looks likely to provide a better solution especially for post operative pain without the side effects often experienced by the patients.


I can recall most of those after my operation, especially the mental state bit ! Research has revealed that quite often those treated with opiates for post operative pain relief end up needing extra treatments to mitigate against the side effects of said opiates. Beyond even this, there is evidence that pain levels can still be at the high end even when opiate relief is given which is debilitating to the patient hampering recovey, and also decreasing mobility whilst providing the risk of additional medical complications.


The new breakthrough takes the form of an injection of a drug called EXPAREL which it is claimed, could provide opiate free pain relief for up to a third of patients who have had surgery.The injection once given can provide pain relief for 3 days at a time. This is especially valuable in the immediate post operative days when the patient is often at the lowest ebb and most likely to be highly discomforted by pain.

Research has shown that patients receiving the injections reported low pain levels and less adverse side effects. The active ingredient is BUPIVACAINE in a suspension which enables slow release and absoption, allowing the beneficial effects to spread over three days.

Already, those recovering from a variety of operations extending from tummy tucks and breast procedures surgery to haemorrhoid and bunion surgeries have found the benfit of this advance and remained pain free without opiates being involved.Some patients have had some nausea when using the injection but far less than normal numbers and the net result is that patients reliance on drugs like paracetamol is subsquently reduced, helping advance the rate of ultimate recovery.

Remember the name, EXPAREL. Those undergoing surgery in the future may well benefit from it in those important initial post operation days.


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