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Contact Our Genetic Specialists

Avera Institute for Human Genetics
3720 W. 69th Street

Sioux Falls, SD 57108


Personalized Medicine at Avera

We are all different. So is the way our bodies process – or metabolize – medication. Personalized medicine offers cutting-edge technology that helps physicians know the right drug for each patient, at the right dose – all through a simple blood test.

Avera is unlocking the science behind pain management through our ability to select drugs that match each patient’s unique genetic characteristics.

Among common pain medications, there are drugs that work well for a given individual, and others that don’t work at all. To date, physicians have relied on a trial-and-error approach, or information from a person’s medical history. In comparison, personalized medicine harnesses genetic science and technology to understand how each individual metabolizes pain medications.

Avera is using personalized medicine first in the specialty of orthopedics, and will widen the scope to other sites and specialties in the near future. This technology has the potential to revolutionize the way Avera does health care.

This testing is provided right here in Sioux Falls, by experts at the Avera Institute for Human Genetics.

Personalized Medicine Details

What is personalized medicine?

Personalized medicine involves using genetic analysis to better manage a patient’s disease. Avera is using a specific area of personalized medicine, known as pharmacogenomics, to help health care practitioners prescribe the best medication before treatment even begins, based on genetic information.

What patients are eligible?

Patients having elective orthopedic surgery under the care of Avera’s orthopedic partners in Sioux Falls and Mitchell, S.D., are eligible to be tested, if the test is deemed to be medically necessary. This may be the case for patients who have had difficulty controlling post-surgical pain in the past.

In the future, Avera will widen the scope of this service to include other sites and specialties.

Qualifying for the personalized medicine test

To qualify to have your blood tested for personalized medicine, the test must be medically necessary. Can you say “yes” to any of the following questions:

  • Has there ever been difficulty controlling your pain in the past, even with prescription pain medication, after surgery, dental work or an injury?
  • Have you ever experienced a bad reaction to pain medications, such as lowered breathing rate, low blood pressure, dizziness, feeling whoozy or “out of it”?
  • Have you ever experienced bad reactions to other medications, including the following?
    • Effects of anesthesia lasted for 24 hours or greater
    • Antidepressants did not work for you after trying two or more antidepressants
    • Blood pressure medications caused extreme side effects, such as a low heart rate
    • Unexpected or severe side effects from a particular medication for high cholesterol, diabetes or other conditions

How does personalized medicine work?

Before their scheduled elective orthopedic procedure, patients will have blood drawn, similar to any routine blood test.

This test provides a genetic “snapshot” of how the liver metabolizes medication. The liver is the organ in which 90 percent of drug metabolizing takes place.

Blood tests are analyzed, right here in Sioux Falls, by experts at the Avera Institute for Human Genetics. Physicians are sent an easy-to-interpret report that tells which pain medications will work best, and which pain medications won’t work well at all.

So before surgery even takes place, health providers know exactly what medicines to prescribe to best manage post-surgical pain.

Is there an added cost for this testing?

For tests that are deemed medically necessary, Medicare provides reimbursement; co-pays and deductibles apply. Patients covered by private insurers should check with their insurance carrier to see if their plan provides coverage.

Is this a research study?

No. It’s a highly specialized lab test that has proven medical benefits.

How will patients benefit?

Rather than taking a medication and waiting to see if it works, this test eliminates the “trial and error.” Patients’ pain is managed better, faster, so they can go on to experience a good recovery.

  • More effective pain management
  • Reduced side effects of pain medication
  • Better satisfaction with their care
  • Faster recovery
  • Shorter hospital stays

Patient Example

Based on this patient’s genetic panel for pain medications, medications in red should be avoided and the medication in yellow should be used with caution. Medications in green should be evaluated by the physician and pharmacist for possible drug interactions, but otherwise would be good choices for this patient.

pain medications chart