Spine patients' opioid use in the hospital & before surgery may indicate long-term abuse — 3 study findings

Written by Angie Stewart | April 01, 2019 | Print  |

The number of opioids transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion patients take before and during a hospital stay may be a predictor of long-term opioid abuse, Spinal News International reports.

Researchers studied 53 patients who underwent a one-, two-, or three-level primary TLIF at NYU Langone's Orthopedic Hospital in New York City from 2014 to 2017. They gave patients questionnaires before surgery and three months after surgery to evaluate patient-reported outcomes such as pain intensity.

What you should know:

1. The 21 patients with a history of preoperative opioid use had worse baseline scores for pain and disability compared to the 32 opioid-naive patients, or those who had not taken opioids before surgery.

2. Opioid-naive patients had less functional improvement postoperatively compared to those who had used opioids before surgery.

3. Patients who used opioids preoperatively had longer lengths of stay, were prescribed more opioids after surgery and continued taking them for a longer time after discharge than opioid-naive patients.

"Spine surgeons may want to take a multidisciplinary approach and work closely with pain and addiction medicine specialists to address the prolonged utilization of opioids at six months after TLIF surgery in patients who took opioids preoperatively," researcher Charla Fischer, MD, of NYU Langone's Spine Center, told Spinal News International.

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