Analgesic Use After Surgery Linked to Long-Term Use

Prescription of opioids, NSAIDs within seven days of low-risk surgery increases risk of long-term use

THURSDAY, March 15 (HealthDay News) -- Older patients prescribed opioids or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for pain relief after short-stay surgery appear to be at increased risk for becoming long-term analgesic users, according to a study published in the March 12 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

To assess the risk of long-term analgesic use after low-risk surgery, Asim Alam, M.D., of the University of Toronto, and colleagues retrospectively examined data from Canadian residents, aged 66 years and older, who were dispensed an opioid or NSAID within seven days of a short-stay surgery.

The researchers found that, among 391,139 opioid-naive patients, opioids were newly prescribed to 7.1 percent of patients within seven days of discharge and to 7.7 percent at one year from surgery. Compared with patients who did not get a prescription for opioids, patients receiving a prescription within seven days of surgery were 44 percent more likely to become long-term opioid users within one year (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 1.44). Among 383,780 NSAID-naive patients, the proportion receiving prescriptions for NSAIDS increased from 0.3 percent within seven days to 7.8 percent at one year. There was an almost four-fold increase in the risk of becoming a long-term NSAID user for patients who began taking NSAIDs within seven days of surgery (aOR, 3.74).

"Prescription of analgesics immediately after ambulatory surgery occurs frequently in older adults and is associated with long-term use," the authors write.

One author disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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