HealthDay News — Many patients undergoing elective same-day or inpatient joint and spine surgery have unused opioids at one- and six-month follow-up, according to a study published online April 17 in Anesthesia & Analgesia.

Mark C. Bicket, MD, from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, and colleagues conducted a prospective cohort study involving individuals aged ≥18 years undergoing elective same-day or inpatient joint and spine surgery. Patient-reported outcomes were assessed at 2-day, 2-week, one-month, and 6-month intervals. Data were included for 140 patients; one- and 6-month follow-up data were available for 82 and 80%, respectively.

The researchers found that at one- and 6-month follow-up, possession of unused opioids was reported by 73 and 34% of patients who stopped opioid therapy, respectively. At one month, 46 and 37% of participants had ≥20 pills and ≥200 morphine milligram equivalents, respectively; only 6% reported using multiple nonopioid adjuncts. At follow-up, many patients reported unsafe storage and failure to dispose of opioids (91 and 96%, respectively, at one month; 92 and 47%, respectively, at 6 months).

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“After joint and spine surgery, many patients reported unused opioids, infrequent use of analgesic alternatives, and lack of knowledge regarding safe opioid storage and disposal,” the authors write.

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Several authors disclosed financial ties to the biopharmaceutical industry.

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