Burden of preoperative opioid use and its impact on healthcare utilization after primary single level lumbar discectomy

Nikhil Jain, Mayur Sharma, Dengzhi Wang, Beatrice Ugiliweneza, Doniel Drazin, Maxwell Boakye

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background Context: The complication profile and higher cost of care associated with preoperative opioid use and spinal fusion is well described. However, the burden of opioid use and its impact in patients undergoing lumbar discectomy is not known. Knowledge of this, especially for a relatively benign and predictable procedure will be important in bundled and value-based payment models. Purpose: To study the burden of pre-operative opioid use and its effect on postoperative healthcare utilization, cost, and opioid use in patients undergoing primary single level lumbar discectomy. Study Design: Retrospective cohort study. Patient Sample: A 29,745 patients undergoing primary single level lumbar discectomy from the IBM MarketScan (2000-2018) database. Outcome Measures: Ninety-day and 1-year utilization of lumbar epidural steroid injections, emergency department (ED) services, lumbar magnetic resonance imaging, hospital readmission, and revision lumbar surgery. Continued opioid use beyond 3-months postoperatively until 1-year was also studied. We have reported costs associated with healthcare utilization among opioid groups. Methods: Patients were categorized in opioid use groups based on the duration and number of oral prescriptions before discectomy (opioid naïve, < 3-months opioid use, chronic preoperative use, chronic preoperative opioid use with 3-month gap before surgery, and other). The risk of association of preoperative opioid use with outcome measures was studied using multivariable logistic regression analysis with adjustment for various demographic and clinical variables. Results: A total of 29,745 patients with mean age of 45.3±9.6 years were studied. Pre-operatively, 29.0% were opioid naïve, 35.0% had < 3-months use and 12.0% were chronic opioid users. There was a significantly higher rate of post-operative lumbar epidural steroid injections, magnetic resonance imaging, ED visits, readmission and revision surgery within 90-days and 1-year after surgery in chronic pre-operative opioid users as compared with patients with < 3-months use and opioid naïve patients (p<.001). Chronic post-operative opioid use was present in 62.6% of the preoperative chronic opioid users as compared with 5.6% of patients with < 3-months opioid use. A 3-month prescription free period before surgery in chronic pre-operative opioid users cut the incidence of chronic post-operative opioid use by more than half, at 25.7%. Cost of care and adjusted analysis of risk have been described. Conclusion: Chronic preoperative opioid use was present in 12% of a national cohort of lumbar discectomy patients. Such opioid use was associated with significantly higher post-operative healthcare utilization, risk of revision surgery, and costs at 90-days and 1-year postoperatively. Two-third of chronic preoperative opioid users had continued long-term postoperative opioid use. However, a 3-month prescription free period before surgery in chronic opioid users reduces the risk of long-term postoperative use. This data will be useful for patient education, pre-operative opioid use optimization, and risk-adjustment in value-based payment models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1700-1710
Number of pages11
JournalSpine Journal
Volume21
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier Inc.

Keywords

  • Opioids
  • bundled payments
  • discectomy
  • lumbar
  • narcotic
  • outcomes
  • risk
  • spine
  • value

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