New Long-Term Opioid Prescription-Filling Behavior Arising in the 15 Months After Orthopaedic Surgery

BACKGROUND:

The opioid crisis is a well-known public health issue. The risk of new long-term opioid prescription-filling behavior has been investigated after certain spinal procedures and total knee and hip arthroplasty. However, this has not been examined after many other common orthopaedic procedures. The purpose of this study was to determine the rates of long-term opioid prescription-filling behavior after common orthopaedic surgical procedures in patients who were not taking opioids preoperatively.

METHODS:

This study utilized the Virginia All-Payer Claims Database (APCD), an insurance claims database with data from 3.7 to 4 million patients per year. Patients who underwent orthopaedic procedures and who had not filled an opioid prescription in the time period from 2 weeks to 1 year preceding the surgical procedure were selected for evaluation in our study. The percentage of these patients who then filled at least 10 prescriptions or a 120-day supply of opioids in the time period from 90 to 455 days following the surgical procedure was calculated for the 50 most commonly billed orthopaedic surgical procedures.

RESULTS:

The rate of long-term opioid prescription-filling behavior in patients who were not taking opioids preoperatively for the 50 most common orthopaedic procedures was 5.3% (95% confidence interval, 5.1% to 5.5%). The highest rates were observed after spinal procedures. The lowest rates were seen after anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction. Revision surgical procedures were found to have a significantly higher rate than primary procedures (p < 0.05). The rate was also related to increasing case complexity.

CONCLUSIONS:

New long-term opioid prescription-filling behavior is common after orthopaedic surgical procedures in patients who were not taking opioids preoperatively. Risk factors include spine surgery, revision surgery, and cases with increased complexity. Orthopaedic surgeons need to be aware of this risk.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE:

Prognostic Level III. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

 2019 Dec 18. doi: 10.2106/JBJS.19.00241. [Epub ahead of print]