Opioid prescribing practices after posterior spinal arthrodesis for adolescent idiopathic scoliosis

Andrew B. Harris, Varun Puvanesarajah, Majd Marrache, Caleb P. Gottlich, Micheal Raad, Richard L. Skolasky, Dolores B. Njoku, Paul D. Sponseller, Amit Jain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Study design: Retrospective review. Objective: To identify national trends in postoperative opioid prescribing practices after posterior spinal fusion (PSF) in patients with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS). Summary of background data: Opioids are an important component of pain management after PSF for AIS. Given the national opioid crisis, it is important to understand opioid prescribing practices in these patients. Methods: Using a commercial prescription drug claims database, we identified AIS patients who underwent PSF from 2010 to 2016 and who were prescribed opioids postoperatively. An initial prescription at hospital discharge of ≥ 90 morphine milligram equivalents daily (MMED) was used to identify patients at risk of overdose according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines. Prescriptions for skeletal muscle relaxants were also identified. α = 0.05. Results: We included 3762 patients (75% female) with a mean (± standard deviation) age of 15 ± 2.1 years. 56% of patients filled only 1 opioid prescription after discharge, and 44% had ≥ 1 refills. 91% of opioid prescriptions were for hydrocodone (median strength, 43 MMED; mean strength, 65 ± 270 MMED) or oxycodone formulations (median strength, 60 MMED; mean strength, 79 ± 174 MMED). 82% of prescriptions complied with CDC guidelines (' 90 MMED). Overall, 612 patients (16%) filled ≥ 1 prescription for skeletal muscle relaxants, the most common being cyclobenzaprine (45%) and methocarbamol (29%). The percentage of patients filling ' 1 prescription declined from 54% in 2010 to 31% in 2016 (p ' 0.001). The proportion of patients receiving prescriptions for ≥ 90 MMED was highest in the West (29%) and lowest in the South (16%) (p ' 0.001). Conclusion: Most opioid prescriptions after PSF in patients with AIS comply with CDC guidelines. Temporal and geographic variations show an opportunity for standardizing opioid prescribing practices in these patients. Level of evidence: III.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)965-973
Number of pages9
JournalSpine deformity
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2020


  • Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis
  • Geographic variation
  • Healthcare policy
  • MarketScan
  • Opioids
  • Pain
  • Pediatrics
  • Posterior spinal fusion
  • Scoliosis
  • Trends


Dive into the research topics of 'Opioid prescribing practices after posterior spinal arthrodesis for adolescent idiopathic scoliosis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this