Home E-Weekly June 17, 2014

Opioids Affect Spine Outcomes

Published: June 16, 2014

Pain management patients who take prescription opioids are known to be at risk of dependence and cognitive impairment. According to recent research, the drugs may also adversely impact their spine surgery outcomes.

For a study published in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery's June issue, researchers surveyed patients who underwent elective lumbar, thoracolumbar or cervical spine surgery between October 2010 and June 2012 for their self-reported health status pre-operatively and at 3 and 12 months after surgery.

Out of 583 patient cases observed, 326 (56%) involved some degree of pre-op opioid use, with those patients taking an average daily morphine-equivalent dose of 8.75mg. The researchers found that the use of pre-op prescription opioid pain relievers was associated with lower levels of post-op improvement and higher levels of patient dissatisfaction.

"Our work highlights the importance of careful preoperative counseling with patients on high doses of preoperative opioids, pointing out the potential impact on long term outcome and working toward narcotic reduction prior to undergoing surgery," says Clinton J. Devin, MD, an assistant professor of orthopedic surgery and neurosurgery at the Vanderbilt Spine Center in Nashville, Tenn.

David Bernard

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