Opioids remain the most prescribed medication after total hip arthroplasty (THA) despite the potential for abuse and adverse effects. Given the high rates of opioid abuse and potential adverse effects, the reporting of controlled substances is now mandatory in many statewide databases. This study aimed to use a mandatory statewide database to analyze opioid prescription patterns in postoperative THA patients and identify independent risk factors for those patients who need a second prescription and/or require prolonged use (>6 months).
We retrospectively reviewed a consecutive series of 619 primary THAs. Demographic and comorbidity information were collected for all patients. Narcotic prescription data (converted to morphine milligram equivalents) as well as prescription data for sedatives, benzodiazepines, and stimulants were collected from the State's Controlled Substance Monitoring websites 6 months before and 9 months after the index procedure. Bivariate and multivariate analyses were done for second prescription and continued use.
Of the 619 patients who underwent THA, 34.9% (216/619) used preoperative opioids, 36.2% (224/619) filled a second opioid prescription, and 10.5% (65/619) had continued use past 6 months. Patients with preoperative opioids were at an approximately 4-fold increased odds of requiring a second script and 12 times odds of continued opioid use. In the multivariate analysis, independent risk factors for requiring a second prescription, in descending order of magnitude, included the use of any sedative or sleep aid prescription and preoperative narcotic use. Independent risk factors for continued narcotic use longer than 6 months after THA included preoperative narcotic use and increased length of stay.
Several risk factors and their relative weight have been identified for continued narcotic consumption after THA. It is important for surgeons to consider these predisposing factors preoperatively during the informed consent process and for managing postoperative pain expectations.