June 27, 2018

Prevalence of unused opioids after joint, spine surgery

By: Judy Mathias
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Editor’s Note

In this study, many patients reported unused opioids after joint and spine surgery, infrequent use of nonopioid analgesics, and lack of knowledge on safe opioid storage and disposal.

Of 140 patients analyzed, 35% were taking preoperative opioids. Among those who stopped taking opioids after surgery, possession of unused opioids was reported by 73% at 1-month follow-up and 34% at 6-month follow-up.

At 1-month, 46% had unused pills, 37% had 200 or more morphine milligram equivalents, and 6% reported using multiple nonopioid adjuncts.

Many patients reported unsafe storage and failure to dispose of opioids at  both 1-month and 6-month follow-up.

Interventions are needed to better tailor postoperative analgesia and improve storage and disposal of opioids, the authors say.

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