To determine the association of preinjury opioid use on incidence of fasciotomy after lower extremity trauma.
Retrospective case–control study.
Level 1 trauma center.
We identified 245 consecutive patients treated with fasciotomy for compartment syndrome of the lower extremity from 2011 to 2016. Of these, 115 were excluded for isolated vascular injury without fracture, age younger than 18 years, out-of-state residence, nontraumatic etiology, and/or incomplete opioid records. Three hundred ninety age- and sex-matched patients with tibial fractures not requiring fasciotomy were selected for comparison.
Review of demographics, injury characteristics, and opioid prescriptions.
Main Outcome Measurements:
Rate of preinjury narcotic use.
There was no significant difference in chronic opioid use between patients requiring fasciotomy and those who did not (odds ratio = 0.80, 95% confidence interval: 0.43–1.50, P = 0.49). There was no significant difference in average morphine milligram equivalents (MME)/day (66.6 vs. 77.4, P = 0.68). There was no significant difference in active opioid use (odds ratio = 0.76, 95% confidence interval: 0.45–1.29, P = 0.30). There was no significant difference in average MME/day (69.3 vs. 75.6, P = 0.80) for active narcotic users.
There were no differences in the rate or average MME/day of preinjury opioid use between patients with a tibia fracture treated with or without fasciotomy for compartment syndrome. These results indicate that pre-existing opioid use does not interfere with the accurate diagnosis of compartment syndrome in trauma patients. The diagnosis and treatment of compartment syndrome is not affected by preinjury narcotic use and potential associations with opiate-induced hyperalgesia.
Level of Evidence:
Prognostic Level III. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.