Persistent opioid use common after surgery: 3 study insights

A study published in JAMA Surgery examined opioid use after major and minor operations, which was previously sparsely documented.

Chad M. Brummett, MD, of Ann Arbor-based University of Michigan Medical School, compared patients who were opioid free before surgery to those who used opioids for more than 90 days after surgery.

Researchers had 36,177 patients meet criteria, of which 29,068 had a minor surgical procedure and 7,109 had a major procedure. The patients were 45-years-old white females on average.

Here's what they found.

1. Persistent opioid use was similar between the major and minor surgery groups, ranging from 5.9 percent to 6.5 percent.

2. The nonoperative control group's incidence rate was 0.4 percent.

3. Risk factors associated with persistent opioid use post surgery included preoperative tobacco use, alcohol and substance abuse disorders, mood disorders, anxiety and perioperative pain disorders.

Researchers concluded persistent opioid use after surgery was common for new users that associated with the aforementioned behavioral and pain disorders. Researchers believe that use is not attributable to surgical pain but to addressable patient-level predictors.

They said, "New persistent opioid use represents a common but previously underappreciated surgical complication that warrants increased awareness."

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