Factors predicting chronic opioid use after orthopedic surgical procedures

Basavana Goudra, Arjun Guthal, Preet Mohinder Singh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Opioid abuse has been an increasing problem since the 1990s. With over 47,000 opioid related deaths recorded in 2017 alone, concerns have been raised regarding the dangers of introducing opioids perioperatively to patients undergoing major surgeries. Objectives: The present study proposes to examine the frequency, amount, and trends in postoperative opioid consumption in patients undergoing orthopedic surgical procedures. Study Design: This was a randomized, retrospective questionnaire-based study. Setting: Patients who underwent any type of orthopedic surgery at the University of Pennsylvania Presbyterian Hospital from 1/1/2018 to 3/12/2019 were randomly selected and called during the summer of 2019. Methods: In this retrospective questionnaire-based study, 828 patients were called by telephone in the summer of 2019. These patients were asked a variety of questions involving opioid consumption behavior post-surgery. The study ended after receiving responses from 200 patients. Results: Nineteen (9.5%) patients reported positively for experiencing euphoria while taking opioids post-surgery. Of the 200 patients contacted, 6 patients (3%) reported switching to marijuana instead of opioids. Thirty-eight (19%) patients preferred to take no opioids at all post-surgery, and one patient was found to have given their prescription to a family member or friend. Twenty-one patients (10.5%) were found to have been taking opioids for non-severe pain. Blacks and whites were the most common racial demographics, making up 84 and 109 of the totals, respectively. The odds ratios for all of the predictors showed that the relative risk for opioid misuse was higher for black patients than white patients (OR = 3.034). There was no relationship between the intra-and post-operative opioid administration and long-term opioid misuse. Limitations: Patients are self-selected and had the option to opt out of the study when contacted. Some patients may not have been available to answer the phone when our study was being conducted. This study was only conducted for orthopedic patients and for patients who received surgery at the University of Pennsylvania Presbyterian Hospital, thus affecting the demographics for our research. Conclusions: Prescription opioid misuse is more common among the black population. The total opioid consumption is frequently lower than the quantity prescribed. Patients frequently use opioids even though they feel that pain is insufficient to deserve such an intervention. Euphoria is experienced by a significant number of patients taking prescription opioids Often patients do not take any opioids, although they had prescriptions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E231-E237
JournalPain Physician
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2021


  • Abuse
  • Misuse
  • Opioids
  • Post-operative pain


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