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.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology
- Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine