Nonopioid Versus Opioid Analgesics After Thyroid and Parathyroid Surgery: A Systematic Review

Peter K. Moon, Eric X. Wei, Marzan S. Hamid, John A. Borghi, Uchechukwu C. Megwalu

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Objective: To determine whether nonopioid analgesic regimens, taken after discharge for thyroid and parathyroid surgery have noninferior pain outcomes in comparison to opioid analgesic regimens. Secondarily, we sought to determine if nonopioid analgesic regimens decrease the number of opioid medications taken after thyroid and parathyroid surgery, and to assess adverse events associated with opioid versus nonopioid regimens. Data sources: PubMed, Embase, Cochrane. Review Methods: A comprehensive search of the literature was performed according to the PRISMA guidelines, and identified 1299 nonduplicate articles for initial review of which 2 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) were identified as meeting all eligibility criteria. Meta-analysis was not conducted due to heterogeneity in the data and statistical analyses. Results: Both RCTs included in this systematic review found no significant differences in postoperative pain scores between individuals discharged with a nonopioid only analgesic regimen compared to analgesic regimen that included oral opioid medications. One study reported significantly increased number of postoperative calls related specifically to pain in the nonopioid arm compared to the opioid arm (15.6% vs. 3.2%, P =.045). Conclusion: This systematic review of RCTs revealed a limited number of studies examining nonopioid versus opioid postoperative pain medications among adults who undergo thyroid and parathyroid surgery. Among the 2 RCTs on this topic, there is a shared finding that nonopioid analgesic regimens are noninferior to opioid analgesic regimens in managing postoperative pain after thyroid and parathyroid surgery, supporting the use of nonopioid pain regimens given the risk of opioid dependence associated with prescription opioid medications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-19
Number of pages7
JournalOtolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2024
Externally publishedYes


  • analgesics
  • head and neck endocrine surgery
  • opioids
  • parathyroidectomy
  • perioperative pain management
  • postoperative pain
  • thyroidectomy


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