Correspondence  |   March 2004
The Perioperative Use of Cyclooxygenase-2 Selective Nonsteroidal Antiinflammatory Drugs May Offer a Safer Alternative
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Scott S. Reuben, M.D.
  • * The Baystate Medical Center and the Tufts University School of Medicine, Springfield, Massachusetts. .
Article Information
Correspondence   |   March 2004
The Perioperative Use of Cyclooxygenase-2 Selective Nonsteroidal Antiinflammatory Drugs May Offer a Safer Alternative
Anesthesiology 3 2004, Vol.100, 748. doi:
Anesthesiology 3 2004, Vol.100, 748. doi:
To the Editor:—
We read with interest the excellent review article of randomized, controlled trials involving the effects of nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) on bleeding after tonsillectomy. 1 Although the results of this meta-analysis suggest “that the use of NSAID therapy after tonsillectomy should be abandoned both at the hospital and at home,”1 we must remind the readers that the perioperative use of cyclooxygenase (COX)-2 selective NSAIDs may offer a safer alternative in the management of posttonsillectomy pain. Previous data have suggested that celecoxib, 2 rofecoxib, 3 and valdecoxib 4 have analgesic effects similar to conventional NSAIDs when used for acute pain. Further, because platelets express only COX-1 and are incapable of expressing COX-2, 5 selective COX-2 inhibitors do not inhibit platelet function. We have found that the preoperative administration of rofecoxib possesses a more favorable pharmacokinetic profile than the other COX-2 selective NSAIDs in the management of pediatric tonsillectomy pain. Rofecoxib provides onset of clinical analgesia within 27 min 6 and has an elimination half-life of 17.5 h; therefore, it can be administered once daily. 3 Rofecoxib is available as a strawberry-flavored oral suspension (containing 12.5 mg or 25 mg of rofecoxib per 5-ml solution), which makes pediatric dose titration easy to accomplish.
We recently evaluated the analgesic efficacy and safety of administering rofecoxib (1 mg/kg) prior to pediatric tonsillectomy. 7 This study revealed no significant increase in measured intraoperative surgical bleeding or in the likelihood of reoperation for bleeding. Furthermore, the preoperative administration of rofecoxib resulted in a significant decrease in postoperative pain and more than a threefold reduction in the incidence of postoperative nausea and vomiting. The reduction in postoperative nausea and vomiting may be attributable to either the improved analgesic efficacy of rofecoxib or to its centrally mediated action. It has been demonstrated in an animal model that activation of the medullary vomiting center involves prostaglandins, and the preemptive administration of COX inhibitors significantly decreased lipopolysaccharide-induced emesis. 8 NSAIDs with significant penetration into the central nervous system may be advantageous in reducing postoperative nausea and vomiting. Previous studies in rats have revealed that 35% of rofecoxib plasma concentrations penetrated into the cerebrospinal fluid 9; this relative penetration into the central nervous system was independent of dose (≤ 150 mg/day). 10 
Therefore, we believe the perioperative administration of rofecoxib, a selective COX-2 inhibitor, may offer significant advantageous over conventional NSAIDs in the management of tonsillectomy pain.
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