A Michigan partnership launches a big dig into CBD’s potential to curb post-surgery opioid use

Michigan Medicine and Henry Ford Health. Stock graphic of cannabis leaves rising from open pill capsule

Michigan Medicine and Henry Ford Health are partnering to launch the largest-ever clinical trial to determine if administering the marijuana-derived compound known as cannabidiol (CBD) before and after surgery may reduce the need for opioids following a total knee arthroplasty. While the study’s focus is on patients with total knee arthroplasty, researchers believe the results may have broad implications regarding appropriate perioperative CBD use for a wide variety of elective surgeries where opioids remain the mainstay of therapy.

“This represents a major step in assessing CBD’s potential to reduce opioid consumption following surgery,” said Lara Zador, M.D., a specialist in anesthesiology and pain medicine at Henry Ford Health.

Despite advances in perioperative pain care, acute and persistent pain remain a major issue following surgery, and opioids are used as the primary treatment for acute pain following surgery. The use of opioids can become habit-forming, and this study seeks to investigate alternatives that could limit post-surgery opioid use.

“This trial design will allow us to investigate when — if at all — CBD may be most usefully administered in the perioperative period,” said Kevin Boehnke, Ph.D., research assistant professor within the Michigan Medicine Department of Anesthesiology. “We want to understand whether CBD changes opioid consumption after surgery, and our study will also contribute to a nuanced understanding of CBD’s effects on pain intensity, anxiety, inflammation, and sleep.”