5 things to know about opioid oversupply after joint and spine surgery

Written by Shayna Korol | February 18, 2019 | Print  | Email

After joint and spine surgery, many patients at a large tertiary hospital reported unused opioids, infrequent use of analgesic alternatives and lack of knowledge regarding safe opioid storage and disposal, according to a study published in Anesthesia & Analgesia.

Five things to know:

1. The researchers recruited 140 patients who underwent elective same-day or inpatient joint and spine surgery between August 2016 and November 2016. The study authors assessed patient-reported outcomes at 2-day, 2-week, 1-month and 6-month intervals.

2. Among patients who stopped opioid therapy, 73 percent reported possessing unused opioids at one month postoperatively and 34 percent at six months postoperatively.

After one month, 46 percent had 20 or more unused pills and 37 percent had 200 or more morphine milligram equivalents.

Only 6 percent reported using multiple nonopioid adjuncts. Many patients reported unsafe storage and a failure to dispose of opioids at one and six months postoperatively.

"Interventions are needed to better tailor postoperative analgesia and improve the safe storage and disposal of prescription opioids," study authors concluded.

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