Spondylolisthesis patients with opioid dependence incur higher costs after surgery — 5 study insights


Degenerative spondylolisthesis patients who are dependent on opioids had significantly higher healthcare utilization and overall costs after surgery, according to a study in the Journal of Neurosurgery.

Here are five things to know:

1. The study authors defined opioid dependency as having a diagnosis of opioid use disorder, having a prescription for opioid use disorder or having 10 or more opioid prescriptions.

2. The researchers identified 10,708 patients in the MarketScan database using ICD-9 and CPT-4 codes from 2000 to 2012. They evaluated opioid dependency in the 12-month period prior to surgery and between three and 15 months postoperative.

3. Patients were separated into four groups based on opioid dependence pre- and postoperatively:

  • Prior nondependent who remain nondependent
  • Nondependent who become dependent
  • Prior dependent who become nondependent
  • Prior dependent who remain dependent

4. Almost all — 96.31 percent — of prior dependent patients who remained dependent had decompression with fusion procedures. These patients were less likely to be discharged home compared to nondependent patients who remained nondependent.

5. Dependent patients who remained dependent incurred 21 percent higher hospital readmission costs compared with those nondependent patients who remained nondependent between three and 15 months post-discharge.

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