Chronic opioid users have 33% relative increase in likelihood of repeat spinal fusion within 1 year — 8 takeaways

Written by Megan Wood | March 21, 2018 | Print  |

Researchers from The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus investigated the impact of chronic opioid therapy on complications following spinal fusion surgery.

The study included 24,610 lumbar spinal fusion patients; 5,550 of the patients were taking opioids for more than six months before their surgery. Some factors associated with an increased rate of chronic opioid therapy include tobacco use disorder, drug abuse/dependence, anxiety, depression and inflammatory arthritis.

Spine published the study.

Here are eight takeaways.

1. The researchers discovered complications were more prevalent among patients on long-term opioids.

2. The likelihood of surgical wound complications was 19 percent higher for chronic opioid users compared to those who used for six months or less, for the first 90 days post-surgery.

3. Chronic opioid users also saw greater odds of emergency department visits and hospitalizations for the first 90 days post-surgery.

4. The study found a 31 percent relative increase in emergency visits for chronic opioid users to treat lumbar spine pain following spinal fusion. The group also saw an 80 percent relative increase in hospital admissions to treat lumbar spine pain in the same timeframe.

5. Those patients on chronic opioid therapy before surgery were eight times more likely to continue taking opioids one year post-spinal fusion.

6. The chronic opioid users also had a 33 percent relative increase in the odds of a repeat spinal fusion within one year.

7. Higher care costs also plagued the chronic opioid users.

8. The researchers concluded, "As we head toward a value- and outcomes-based reimbursement system, spine surgeons need to incorporate preoperative opioid use into their surgical decision making."

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