August 22, 2019

Cardiothoracic surgery patients at high risk for postop opioid dependence

By: Judy Mathias
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Editor's Note

This study finds that the amount of opioids prescribed for patients after cardiothoracic surgery has a direct relationship with the risk for opioid dependence and persistent opioid use several months after surgery.

Of nearly 25,000 opioid-naïve Medicare patients analyzed, 15.7% of patients who had lung surgery and 12.5% of those who had heart surgery became new persistent opioid users for many months after surgery.


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Patients who were prescribed more than 60 pills had a nearly two-fold risk of chronic opioid use compared with those who were prescribed 27 or fewer pills (19.6% vs 10.4%).

High amounts of opioid pain medication after surgery can place patients at risk of persistent opioid use well beyond the expected period of recovery, the authors say.

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