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NSS-Bridge Device for Post-Cesarean Delivery Analgesia: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Author(s): Grace Lim, Emma Nowakowski, Kelsea R. LaSorda, Valeria Altamirano, Madison Morgan, Mutasim Makeen, Stacy Beck, Elizabeth Krans, Jacques E. Chelly

Introduction Percutaneous auricular nerve stimulation has been used for the treatment of symptoms associated with opioid withdrawal, including abdominal pain, nausea, and general discomfort. However, its potential utility for pain management and opioid minimization after surgery has not been investigated. The purpose of this study was to test the feasibility and acceptability of a trial protocol designed to assess the effectiveness of the NSS2-Bridge device as a non-pharmacologic alternative to opioids after cesarean delivery. Methods In a randomized control design, healthy women receiving cesarean delivery were randomized to receive the active device, placebo device, or no device. Devices were placed on the ear following cesarean delivery and left in place for 5 days. Feasibility and acceptability of the device was assessed by patient reports of device tolerability (rated on a 100mm visual analog scale where 0 is not tolerable at all and 100 is the most tolerable) as well as qualitative reporting. Additional outcomes assessed included proportion of patients not using opioids in hospital, as well as pain at rest, pain with movement, and total opioid consumption in the hospital and for the first 5 days after surgery. Results There were 60 patients included in the final analysis. Device tolerability was rated highly, with an average daily score of >75 mm on the visual analog scale. The trial retention rate was 89.7% with most exclusions (42.9%) occurring due to unanticipated development of care complexity (e.g., hemorrhage and additional surgical procedures), with only 1 exclusion (14.3%) due to device discomfort. The active device group achieved the highest proportion of opioid-free hospitalizations (40%) compared to placebo (20%) and no device groups (30%). Pain at rest and with movement was similar between treatment groups. Conclusions This trial protocol designed to test the efficacy of NSS2-Bridge device for post-cesarean pain management is feasible and acceptable. Larger proportions of patients not using opioids in the active device group justifies additional investigation on device effectiveness in pregnant and postpartum people at highest risk for pain.

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