Comparison of Postoperative Opioid Utilization in an ACDF Cohort: Narcotic Naive Patients Versus Preoperative Opioid Users

Mark A. Davison, Daniel T. Lilly, Cody M. Eldridge, Ravinderjit Singh, Carlos Bagley, Owoicho Adogwa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Study Design:A retrospective cohort study.Objective:To compare the postoperative opioid utilization rates and costs after anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) procedures between groups of patients who were preoperative opioid users versus opioid naive.Summary of Background Data:Opioid medications are frequently prescribed after ACDF procedures. Given the current opioid epidemic, there is increased emphasis on early identification of patients at risk for prolonged postoperative opioid use.Methods:Records from patients diagnosed with cervical stenosis who underwent a ≤3-level index ACDF surgery between 2007 and 2017 were collected from a large insurance database. International Classification of Diseases diagnosis/procedure codes, Current Procedural Terminology codes, and generic drug codes were used to search clinical records. Two cohorts were established: a group of patients who utilized opioids preoperatively and a group of patients who were opioid naive at the time of surgery. The 1-year utilization and costs of postoperative therapies were documented for each group.Results:The preoperative opioid use cohort contained 4485 patients (61.6%), whereas the opioid-naive cohort included 2799 patients (38.4%). Postoperatively, 86.6% of the preoperative opioid use group continued to use opioids, whereas 59.0% of the opioid-naive group began using opioids. Patients who utilized opioids preoperatively were 4.48 times more likely (95% confidence interval, 3.99-5.02, P<0.001) to use opioids postoperatively and 4.30 times more likely (95% confidence interval, 3.10-5.94, P<0.001) to become opioid dependent compared with opioid-naive patients. In addition, after normalization, patients in the preoperative opioid use group utilized 3.7 times more opioid units/patient and billed for 5.3 times more dollars/patient than opioid-naive patients.Conclusions:In patients with cervical stenosis who undergo an ACDF procedure, the postoperative utilization and costs of opioids seem to be substantially higher in patients with preoperative opioid use compared with opioid-naive patients. Efforts should be made to avoid opioid use as a component of conservative management before surgery.Level of Evidence:Level III.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E86-E91
JournalClinical Spine Surgery
Volume34
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2021

Keywords

  • anterior cervical discectomy and fusion
  • cervical spine surgery
  • cervical stenosis
  • cost
  • healthcare utilization
  • opioid naive
  • opioids
  • spine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Clinical Neurology

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