First Report of Pharmacogenomic Profiling in an Outpatient Spine Setting: Preliminary Results from a Pilot Study

Ethan Cottrill, Zach Pennington, A. Karim Ahmed, Bowen Jiang, Jeff Ehresman, Alex Zhu, Alexander Perdomo-Pantoja, Daniel Lubelski, Daniel M. Sciubba, Timothy Witham, Kevin MacDonald, Chun Hin Lee, Chun Wan Jeffrey Lai, Nicholas Theodore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Objective: Pharmacogenomics may help personalize medicine and improve therapeutic selection. This is the first study investigating how pharmacogenomic testing may inform analgesic selection in patients with spine disease. We profile pharmacogenetic differences in pain medication–metabolizing enzymes across patients presenting at an outpatient spine clinic and provide preliminary evidence that genetic polymorphisms may help explain interpatient differences in preoperative pain refractory to conservative management. Methods: Adults presenting to our outpatient spine clinic with chief symptoms of neck and/or back pain were prospectively enrolled over 9 months. Patients completed the Wong-Baker FACES and numeric pain rating scales for their chief pain symptom and provided detailed medication histories and cheek swab samples for genomic analysis. Results: Thirty adults were included (mean age, 60.6 ± 15.3 years). The chief concern was neck pain in 23%, back pain in 67%, and combined neck/back pain in 10%. At enrollment, patient analgesic regimens comprised 3 ± 1 unique medications, including 1 ± 1 opioids. After genomic analysis, 14/30 patients (47%) were identified as suboptimal metabolizers of ≥1 medications in their analgesic regimen. Of these patients, 93% were suboptimal metabolizers of their prescribed opioid analgesic. Nonetheless, pain scores were similar between optimal and suboptimal metabolizer groups. Conclusions: This pilot study shows that a large proportion of the spine outpatient population may use pain medications for which they are suboptimal metabolizers. Further studies should assess whether these pharmacogenomic differences indicate differences in odds of receiving therapeutic benefit from surgery or if they can be used to generate more effective postoperative analgesic regimens.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e21-e31
JournalWorld neurosurgery
StatePublished - Jan 2021


  • Analgesic regimen
  • Medications
  • Neck and back pain
  • Opioid
  • Personalized medicine
  • Pharmacogenomics
  • Polymorphism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


Dive into the research topics of 'First Report of Pharmacogenomic Profiling in an Outpatient Spine Setting: Preliminary Results from a Pilot Study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this