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Preoperative Exposure to Benzodiazepines or Sedative/hypnotics Increases the Risk of Greater Filled Opioid Prescriptions After Surgery

Hozack, Bryan A., MD; Rivlin, Michael, MD; Lutsky, Kevin F., MD; Graham, Jack, BS; Lucenti, Ludovico, MD; Foltz, Carol, PhD; Beredjiklian, Pedro K., MD

Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research®: June 2019 - Volume 477 - Issue 6 - p 1482–1488
doi: 10.1097/CORR.0000000000000696

Background The effect of the preoperative exposure to controlled substances such as benzodiazepines and sedative/hypnotics on prolonged opioid consumption after hand surgery is not known.

Questions/purposes (1) Is preoperative exposure to benzodiazepines and sedative/hypnotics associated with greater numbers of filled postoperative opioid prescriptions after hand surgery? (2) Is a positive history of the use of more than one controlled substance, a mood disorder, or smoking associated with greater numbers of filled opioid prescriptions after surgery? (3) Is preoperative exposure to opioids associated with greater numbers of filled postoperative opioid prescriptions after hand surgery?

Methods Patients undergoing upper extremity surgery at one academic outpatient surgical center were prospectively enrolled. The Pennsylvania Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) website was used to document prescriptions of opioids, benzodiazepines, and sedative/hypnotics filled 6 months before and after the procedure. Patients were grouped into exposed or naïve cohorts depending on whether a prescription was filled 6 months before surgery. Smoking history (current or previous smoking was considered positive) and a history of mood and pain disorders (as noted in the medical history), were collected from the outpatient and the operating room electronic medical record.

Results After controlling for age, gender, and other confounding variables, we found that a history of exposure to benzodiazepines is associated with a greater number of filled postoperative opioid prescriptions (not-exposed, 1.2 ± 1.3; exposed, 2.2 ± 2.5; mean difference, 1.0; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.5–1.5; p < 0.001); likewise, exposure to sedative/hypnotics is associated with greater opioid prescription fills (not-exposed, 1.2 ± 1.4; exposed, 2.3 ± 2.9; mean difference, 1.1; 95% CI, 0.3–1.9; p = 0.006). Patients who had used more than one controlled substance had more filled opioid prescriptions when compared with those not using more than one controlled substance (3.9 ± 3.5 versus 2.1 ± 1.2; mean difference, 1.8; 95% CI, 0.8–2.8; p = 0.002); patients with mood disorders also had more filled prescriptions when compared with those without mood disorders (2.0 ± 2.5 versus 0.9 ± .8; mean difference, 1.1; 95% CI, 0.7–1.5; p < 0.001); and finally, smoking history is associated with more filled prescriptions (1.9 ± 2.3 versus 1.2 ± 1.5, mean difference, 0.8; 95% CI, 0–1.4; p = 0.040).

Conclusions Patients exposed to benzodiazepines and sedative/hypnotics have prolonged use of opioids after surgery. Undergoing outpatient upper extremity surgery and being prescribed an opioid did not change the patterns of controlled substance use. Based on the results of this study, we are now more aware of the potential problems of patients with exposure to controlled substances, and are more attentive about reviewing their history of substance use in the PDMP website, an important resource. In addition, we now provide much more detailed preoperative counseling regarding the use and abuse of opioid medication in patients with exposure to benzodiazepines, sedatives, and those with a smoking history and mood disorders.

Level of Evidence Level II, therapeutic study.

B. A. Hozack, M. Rivlin, K. F. Lutsky, J. Graham, L. Lucenti, C. Foltz, P. K. Beredjiklian Rothman Institute of Orthopedics, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA, USA

P. K. Beredjiklian, Rothman Institute of Orthopedics, Thomas Jefferson University, 925 Chestnut Street, 5th Floor, Philadelphia, PA 19107 USA, Email:

Each author certifies that neither he or she, nor any member of his or her immediate family, have funding or commercial associations (consultancies, stock ownership, equity interest, patent/licensing arrangements, etc) that might pose a conflict of interest in connection with the submitted article.

All ICMJE Conflict of Interest Forms for authors and Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research® editors and board members are on file with the publication and can be viewed on request.

Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research® neither advocates nor endorses the use of any treatment, drug, or device. Readers are encouraged to always seek additional information, including FDA approval status, of any drug or device before clinical use.

Each author certifies that his or her institution approved the human protocol for this investigation and that all investigations were conducted in conformity with ethical principles of research.

Received August 22, 2018

Accepted February 04, 2019

© 2019 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins LWW
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