To calculate the incidence and identify the predictors of persistent postoperative opioid use at different postoperative days.
A subset of surgical patients continues to use long-term opioids. The importance of the risk factors at different postoperative days is not known.
A historical cohort.
Opioid-naive U.S. veterans.
The surgical group had any one of 19 common invasive procedures. The control group is a 10% random sample. Each control was randomly assigned a surgery date.
The outcomes were the presence of persistent opioid use as determined by continued filling of prescriptions for opioids on postoperative days 90, 180, 270, and 365.
A total of 183,430 distinct surgical cases and 1,318,894 controls were identified. 1.0% of the surgical patients were using opioids at 90 days, 0.6% at 180 days, 0.4% at 270 days, and 0.1% at 365 days after the surgery. Surgery was strongly associated with postoperative persistent opioid use at day 90 (OR 3.67, 95% CI, 3.43-3.94, p < 0.001), at day 180 (OR 2.85, 2.67-3.12, p < 0.001), at day 270 (OR 2.63, 2.38-2.91, p < 0.001) and at day 365 (OR 2.11, 1.77-2.51, p < 0.001) compared to non-surgical controls. In risk factor analysis, being male and single were associated with persistent opioid use at earlier time points (90 and 180 days), while hepatitis C and preoperative benzodiazepine use were associated with persistent opioid use at later time points (270 and 365 days).
Many surgeries or invasive procedures are associated with an increased risk of persistent postoperative opioid use. The postoperative period is dynamic and the risk factors change with time.
Published by Elsevier Inc.