AUTHORS: Kvarda P et al
Foot & Ankle International May 2019
METHODS A total of 535 patients who underwent foot and/or ankle surgery between August 2016 and March 2018 were included in the study. Each patient received a preoperative discussion about postoperative pain and expectations alongside a standardized handout. At the 2-week postoperative visit, the patients self-reported the amount of consumed opioids. Prescription details, number of opioid pills consumed, refill requests, pain-issue-related telephone calls, and additional physician/emergency department visits were documented. Patient demographics, comorbidities, use of regional anesthesia, hospitalization, surgery type/severity, and preoperative opioid use were collected. A total of 244 patients had a sufficiently complete data set for inclusion in the final cohort. Subjects had a mean age of 50 years (±16.3) and a body mass index (BMI) of 29 (±6.1). Sixty-six (27%) patients underwent a soft tissue procedure alone and 178 (73%) underwent a bony procedure.
RESULTS On average, patients consumed 46.6% of the prescribed pills following a bony procedure and 42.4% after a soft tissue procedure, which resulted in a total of 4496 leftover pills. BMI, procedure type (bony vs soft tissue)/severity, and number of opioids prescribed were positively correlated with elevated consumption rates ( P = .008, P<.001, P<.001, P<.001, respectively).
CONCLUSION BMI, procedure type, and higher initial pill dispensation correlated with a larger number of consumed pills during the postoperative period. On average, patients took 42.4% of the prescribed opioid after soft tissue procedures and 46.6% after bony procedures, resulting in a significant number of unused pills. Future guidelines are necessary to improve postoperative pain management to prevent narcotic overprescription and minimize the downstream potential for unprescribed community opioid access.