Opioid Utilization in Geriatric Patients after Operation for Degenerative Spine Disease

Anthony V. Nguyen, Evan Ross, Jordan Westra, Nicole Huang, Christine Y. Nguyen, Mukaila Raji, Rishi Lall, Yong Fang Kuo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: Few studies have investigated opioid utilization by geriatric patients after spinal surgery, a population in whom degenerative spine disease (DSD) is highly prevalent. We aimed to quantify rates of chronic, continuous opioid utilization by geriatric patients following spine surgery for DSD-related diagnoses. Materials and Methods: Utilizing a national 5% Medicare sample database, we investigated individuals aged above 66 years who underwent spinal surgery for a DSD-related diagnosis between the years of 2008 and 2014. The outcomes of interest were the rate of and risk factors for continuous opioid utilization at 1-year following anterior cervical discectomy and fusion, posterior cervical fusion, 360-degree cervical fusion, lumbar microdiscectomy, lumbar laminectomy, posterior lumbar fusion, anterior lumbar fusion, or 360-degree lumbar fusion for a DSD-related diagnosis. Results: Of the 14,583 Medicare enrollees who met study criteria, 6.0% continuously utilized opioids 1-year after spinal surgery. When stratified by preoperative opioid utilization (with the prior year divided into 4 quarters), the rates of continuous utilization at 1-year postsurgery were 0.3% of opioid-naive patients and 23.6% of patients with opioid use in all 4 quarters before surgery. Anxiety, benzodiazepine use within the year before surgery, and Medicaid dual-eligibility were associated with prolonged opioid utilization. Conclusions: Of opioid-naive geriatric patients who underwent surgery for DSD, 0.3% developed chronic, continuous opioid use. Preoperative opioid use was the strongest predictor of prolonged utilization, which may represent suboptimal use of nonopioid alternatives, pre-existing opioid use disorders, delayed referral for surgical evaluation, or over-prescription of opioids for noncancer pain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)315-322
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Neurosurgical Anesthesiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2021


  • analgesics
  • epidemiology
  • geriatrics
  • neurosurgery
  • opioids
  • osteoarthritis
  • spine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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