Treatment with lavender aromatherapy in the post-anesthesia care unit reduces opioid requirements of morbidly obese patients undergoing laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding.

Obes Surg 2007 Jul;17(7):920-5

Department of Anesthesiology, New York University Medical Center, New York, NY 10016, USA.

Background: Parenteral administration of opioids and NSAIDs has been the mainstay for postoperative pain control in patients undergoing laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding (LAGB). Both classes of drugs, however, are associated with serious adverse effects. An addition of complimentary analgesic techniques may decrease requirement for traditional analgesics, thus reducing the incidence of side-effects. We designed the study to evaluate the effectiveness of Lavender aromatherapy in reducing opioid requirements after LAGB.

Methods: A prospective randomized placebo controlled study was carried out on 54 patients undergoing LAGB. Upon arrival to the post-anesthesia care unit (PACU), patients in the study group were treated with lavender oil, which was applied to the oxygen face mask; the control group patients received nonscented baby oil. Postoperative pain was treated with morphine. Numerical rating scores (0-10) were used to measure the level of pain at 5, 30, and 60 min. Sedation was evaluated using the Observer Assessment of Alertness/Sedation scale (0-5). Data analyzed included the amount of opioids, NRS, OAA/S, PACU discharge time, as well as the incidence of side-effects.

Results: The two groups were comparable with regard to patient characteristics, intraoperative drug use, and surgical time. Significantly more patients in the Placebo group (PL) required analgesics for postoperative pain (22/27, 82%) than patients in the Lavender group (LAV) (12/26, 46%) (P = .007). Moreover, the LAV patients required significantly less morphine postoperatively than PL patients: 2.38 mg vs 4.26 mg, respectively (P = .04). There were no differences in the requirements for post-operative antiemetics, antihypertensives, or PACU discharge time.

Conclusions: Our results suggest that lavender aromatherapy can be used to reduce the demand for opioids in the immediate postoperative period. Further studies are required to assess the effect of this therapy on clinically meaningful outcomes, such as the incidence of respiratory complications, delayed gastric emptying, length of hospital stay, or whether this therapy is applicable to other operations.

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