Preoperative opioid strength may not affect outcomes of anterior cervical procedures: A post hoc analysis of 2 prospective, randomized trials

Michael P. Kelly, Paul A. Anderson, Rick C. Sasso, K. Daniel Riew

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


OBJECT: The aim of this study is to evaluate the relationship between preoperative opioid strength and outcomes of anterior cervical decompressive surgery. METHODS: A retrospective cohort of 1004 patients enrolled in 1 of 2 investigational device exemption studies comparing cervical total disc arthroplasty (TDA) and anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) for single-level cervical disease causing radiculopathy or myelopathy was selected. At a preoperative visit, opioid use data, Neck Disability Index (NDI) scores, 36-Item Short-Form Health Survey (SF-36) scores, and numeric rating scale scores for neck and arm pain were collected. Patients were divided into strong (oxycodone/morphine/meperidine), weak (codeine/propoxyphene/hydrocodone), and opioid-naïve groups. Preoperative and postoperative (24 months) outcomes scores were compared within and between groups using the paired t-test and ANCOVA, respectively. RESULTS: Patients were categorized as follows: 226 strong, 762 weak, and 16 opioid naïve. The strong and weak groups were similar with respect to age, sex, race, marital status, education level, Worker's Compensation status, litigation status, and alcohol use. At 24-month follow-up, no differences in change in arm or neck pain scores (arm: strong -52.3, weak -50.6, naïve -54.0, p = 0.244; neck: strong -52.7, weak -50.8, naïve -44.6, p = 0.355); NDI scores (strong -36.0, weak -33.3, naïve -32.3, p = 0.181); or SF-36 Physical Component Summary scores (strong: 14.1, weak 13.3, naïve 21.7, p = 0.317) were present. Using a 15-point improvement in NDI to determine success, the authors found no between-groups difference in success rates (strong 80.6%, weak 82.7%, naïve 73.3%, p = 0.134). No difference existed between treatment arms (TDA vs ACDF) for any outcome at any time point. CONCLUSIONS: Preoperative opioid strength did not adversely affect outcomes in this analysis. Careful patient selection can yield good results in this patient population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)484-489
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Neurosurgery: Spine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2015


  • Cervical arthroplasty
  • Cervical fusion
  • Narcotic
  • Opioid
  • Pain


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