Postdischarge Pain and Opioid Use After Cardiac Surgery: A Prospective Cohort Study

Edward D. Percy, Sameer Hirji, Nicholas Leung, Morgan Harloff, Paige Newell, Olena Cherkasky, Siobhan McGurk, Farhang Yazdchi, Richard Cook, Marc Pelletier, Tsuyoshi Kaneko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: The rate of chronic opioid use after cardiac surgery is high compared with other surgical specialties; however evidence regarding optimal prescribing is limited. The purpose of this study was to evaluate patterns of opioid consumption after cardiac surgery to guide prescribing practices. Methods: Consecutive patients undergoing sternotomy-based cardiac operations were considered for enrollment. Patients with opioid use within 3 months of surgery and those discharged to a nonhome facility were excluded. A patient diary and researcher-directed pill count was used to track pain and opioid use for 10 days after discharge. Results: One hundred four patients were included in the final analysis. Of the 63 patients discharged with an opioid, 22 (34.9%) used none and 12 (19.0%) used fewer than half of the pills prescribed. Overall, pain and opioid consumption decreased significantly throughout the discharge period (P <.001). In those who used opioids after discharge, median total consumption was 64 morphine milligram equivalents (interquartile range, 38-128), or the equivalent of 9 oxycodone 5-mg tablets. Patients who used opioids were younger (60.9 vs 70.0, P <.001), but there were no differences based on sex, history of substance use, smoking, or procedure. After risk adjustment the mean pain score ≥ 3 on the day of discharge was predictive of opioid use (odds ratio, 2.9; 95% confidence interval, 1.8-4.8; P <.001). Most patients (88.5%) were satisfied or very satisfied with pain management. Conclusions: Fewer than half of all patients used opioids after discharge in this study. These data support the need for the development of prescription recommendations after cardiac surgery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1526-1532
Number of pages7
JournalAnnals of Thoracic Surgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2023


Dive into the research topics of 'Postdischarge Pain and Opioid Use After Cardiac Surgery: A Prospective Cohort Study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this