MONDAY, Oct. 15, 2018 (HealthDay News) — For patients undergoing cervical or lumbar spinal fusions, postoperative pain management with opioids is associated with higher postoperative pain scores and worse quality of life, according to a review presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Anesthesiologists, held from Oct. 13 to 17 in San Francisco.

Ramneek Dhillon, from the University of Toledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences in Ohio, and colleagues conducted a systematic review to examine the consequences and complications associated with opioid use among patients who have undergone cervical or lumbar spinal fusions. Thirteen studies met the inclusion criteria, and nine were included in the analyses.

The researchers found that compared with patients managed solely through non-medication regimens such as exercise, patients whose pain was managed with opioids had higher postoperative pain scores and worse quality of life. There were possible associations for chronic and acute uses of opioids for pain management with postoperative complications following cervical and lumbar spine fusion procedures. Opioid use prior to admission with longer hospitalizations correlated with an increased number of readmissions. In addition, duration of opioid use in the year leading up to lumbar surgery or re-fusion surgery correlated with longer duration of postoperative opioid use.

“While we looked at research on opioid use after spinal surgery, we believe these complications likely occur after other surgeries as well,” Dhillon said in a statement.

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