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Many Patients Have Unused Opioids After Spine, Joint Surgery

THURSDAY, May 3, 2018 -- Many patients undergoing elective same-day or inpatient joint and spine surgery have unused opioids at one- and six-month follow-up, according to a study published online April 17 in Anesthesia & Analgesia.

Mark C. Bicket, M.D., from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, and colleagues conducted a prospective cohort study involving individuals aged ≥18 years undergoing elective same-day or inpatient joint and spine surgery. Patient-reported outcomes were assessed at two-day, two-week, one-month, and six-month intervals. Data were included for 140 patients; one- and six-month follow-up data were available for 82 and 80 percent, respectively.

The researchers found that at one- and six-month follow-up, possession of unused opioids was reported by 73 and 34 percent of patients who stopped opioid therapy, respectively. At one month, 46 and 37 percent of participants had ≥20 pills and ≥200 morphine milligram equivalents, respectively; only 6 percent reported using multiple nonopioid adjuncts. At follow-up, many patients reported unsafe storage and failure to dispose of opioids (91 and 96 percent, respectively, at one month; 92 and 47 percent, respectively, at six months).

"After joint and spine surgery, many patients reported unused opioids, infrequent use of analgesic alternatives, and lack of knowledge regarding safe opioid storage and disposal," the authors write.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the biopharmaceutical industry.

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Posted: May 2018