Long-term opioid medication profile of European adult spinal deformity patients: Minimum five years follow-up study

Published:November 03, 2022DOI:



      There remains significant variability in the use of postoperative opioids. On one end, it is proven that appropriate pain control is a critical aspect of patient management; on the other end, past few decades have been associated with major increases in opioid-related overdoses and addiction treatment. We hypothesized that several pre- and postoperative risk factors affecting long-term opioid use could be identified.


      Evaluation of factors associated with minimum 5-year postoperative opioid use following adult spinal deformity surgery.


      Prospectively followed study group database.


      Adult spinal deformity patients who underwent elective spine surgery between 2009 and 2016 were included.


      Opioid usage or otherwise at minimum 5 years follow-up. Use of nonopioid analgesics, weak and strong opioids


      Retrospective analysis of patients undergoing elective spinal deformity surgery. A total of 37 factors comprising patient characteristics, radiographic measurements, operative details, preoperative and early postoperative opioid use, and mechanical complications and revisions were analyzed. Details on identified factors were provided.


      A total of 265 patients (215F, 50M) from five sites were included. The mean follow-up duration was 68.4±11.7 (60–102) months. On average, 10.6±3.5 levels were fused. Preoperatively, 64 (24.2%) patients were using opioids. The rate of opioid users increased to 33.6% at 6 weeks and decreased to 21.5% at 6 months. During follow-up, there were patients who discontinued opioids, while others have started and/or restarted using opioids. As a result, 59 (22.3%) patients were still on opioids at the latest follow-up. Multivariate analyses showed that factors independently affecting opioid use at an average of 68 months postoperatively, in order of significance, were opioid use at sixth weeks, preoperative opioid use and opioid use at sixth months with the odds ratios of 2.88, 2.51, and 2.38 respectively. At these time points, factors such as age, number of comorbidities, tobacco use, the time of the last prior spine surgery and postoperative sagittal plane alignment affected opioid usage rates.


      Opioid usage at 6 weeks was found to be more predictive of long-term opioid use compared to preoperative use. Patients should be well informed to have realistic expectations regarding opioid use when considering adult spinal deformity surgery.


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