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Prolonged Opioid Use Uncommon After Major Surgery in Older Adults — Physician’s First Watch

Medical News |
February 13, 2014

Prolonged Opioid Use Uncommon After Major Surgery in Older Adults

By Kelly Young

Only about 1 in 30 older patients undergoing major elective surgery continued to use opioids more than 90 days post-surgery, according to a BMJ study.

Using Canadian databases, researchers studied nearly 40,000 patients (aged 66 years and older) without preexisting pain disorders who underwent coronary artery bypass graft surgery, lung or colon resection, prostatectomy, or hysterectomy. Both open and minimally invasive procedures were considered. Half the patients were prescribed opioids within 90 days after surgery. After 90 days, 3% were still taking opioids.

The highest risks for prolonged opioid use were associated with intrathoracic procedures, whether open (8.5%) or minimally invasive (6.3%).

The authors note that patients can "be reassured that when people receive opioids appropriately to treat acute pain after major surgery, the majority do not experience prolonged use." They add: "Patients' understandable fears about opioid dependence may be an important barrier to achieving adequate acute postsurgical pain relief."

Reader Comments (1)

* * Other Healthcare Professional, Family Medicine/General Practice, retired

Have spoken with several pharmacists and new problem is unwillingness of many pharmacies to accept legitimate Rxs
for processing!! In Florida.

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