To describe opioid prescribing patterns for patients undergoing kidney cancer surgery and evaluate associations with medical resource utilization in the postoperative setting.
Linked Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results – Medicare data were used to identify patients with kidney cancer who underwent partial or radical nephrectomy (open vs. minimally invasive) from 2007 to 2015. Total dose of discharge opioid prescriptions was quantified into 3 exposure groups based on observed tertiles: 1-199 (low), 200-300 (moderate), and >300 (high) oral morphine milligram equivalents. Associations between exposure groups and patient demographics, clinical factors, and hospital volumes were measured using multivariate logistic regression. Additionally, we identified associations with prior opioid exposure and postoperative medical resource utilization.
Of 4,538 patients meeting inclusion criteria, exposure group distributions were 35% (low), 43.5% (moderate) and 21.6% (high). Over one-third of patients (39.5%) received an opioid prescription within 6 months preceding surgery. High opioid prescriptions were associated with prior exposure, younger age, rural residence and open surgery (p<0.001). High opioid prescriptions had increased risk of 90-day readmissions (OR 1.21; CI 1.01-1.45) and long-term opioid exposure (OR 1.34; CI 1.17-1.53).
Prescribing patterns after kidney cancer surgery vary widely. Higher prescribed dose of post-surgical opioids are associated with 90-day hospital readmissions and long-term exposure. Prior opioid exposure conveys a higher risk of medical resource utilization. More judicious opioid prescribing may limit medical resource utilization and help combat the opioid epidemic.