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New technology trumps narcotics

Once the ball containing the local anesthetic is empty, the patient or their doctor simply slips out the catheters, just like removing an IV. The catheters are coated in antibiotics to prevent infection. The ball of anesthesia comes in different sizes based on the amount of medication the doctor prescribes.

"Pain threshold varies from individual to individual," Quetell said, explaining that he still asks patients if they would like narcotics in addition to the ON-Q to manage their pain.

In the past, plastic surgery patients were mainly given narcotics for pain after surgery. These are usually delivered in pill form and have numerous side effects like nausea, vomiting, constipation, drowsiness, and confusion that can make functioning normally a challenge for patients. Examples of common narcotics are percocet or morphine.

Patients under the influence of narcotics can also have side effects from a lack of regular movement. If bedridden, a patient runs the risk of complications from shallow breathing and can sometimes even get blood clots.

With the ON-Q, a patient is much more mobile and can avoid that "loopy" feeling, Quetell said. This means driving a car and possibly going back to work in the days following surgery (at a non-physical job).

Quetell usually uses Sensorcain or Marcaine in the ON-Q for his patients, which are numbing agents similar to Novocain, the anesthetic dentists' use.

Using local anesthetic instead of strong narcotics also means more compatibility with other medications, Quetell said. For example, antibiotics can also be put in the ON-Q ball with the anesthesia if a patient has an infected body part that needs treatment, Quetell said.

The orthopedic community has found the ON-Q recovery system extremely helpful, Quetell said.

To contact Dr. Quetell call 492-5421 or visit the ON-Q Web site: iflo.com.

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