Talk to the Veterans Crisis Line now
U.S. flag
An official website of the United States government

VA Health Systems Research

Go to the VA ORD website
Go to the QUERI website

HSR&D Citation Abstract

Search | Search by Center | Search by Source | Keywords in Title

Classifying Preoperative Opioid Use for Surgical Care.

Vu JV, Cron DC, Lee JS, Gunaseelan V, Lagisetty P, Wixson M, Englesbe MJ, Brummett CM, Waljee JF. Classifying Preoperative Opioid Use for Surgical Care. Annals of surgery. 2020 Jun 1; 271(6):1080-1086.

Dimensions for VA is a web-based tool available to VA staff that enables detailed searches of published research and research projects.

If you have VA-Intranet access, click here for more information

VA staff not currently on the VA network can access Dimensions by registering for an account using their VA email address.
   Search Dimensions for VA for this citation
* Don't have VA-internal network access or a VA email address? Try searching the free-to-the-public version of Dimensions


OBJECTIVE: We characterized patterns of preoperative opioid use in patients undergoing elective surgery to identify the relationship between preoperative use and subsequent opioid fill after surgery. BACKGROUND: Preoperative opioid use is common, and varies by dose, recency, duration, and continuity of fills. To date, there is little evidence to guide postoperative prescribing need based on prior opioid use. METHODS: We analyzed claims data from Clinformatics DataMart Database for patients aged 18 to 64 years undergoing major and minor surgery between 2008 and 2015. Preoperative use was defined as any opioid prescription filled in the year before surgery. We used cluster analysis to group patients by the dose, recency, duration, and continuity of use. Our primary outcome was second postoperative fill within 30 postoperative days. Our primary explanatory variable was opioid use group. We used logistic regression to examine likelihood of second fill by opioid use group. RESULTS: Out of 267,252 patients, 102,748 (38%) filled an opioid prescription in the 12 months before surgery. Cluster analysis yielded 6 groups of preoperative opioid use, ranging from minimal (27.6%) to intermittent (7.7%) to chronic use (2.7%). Preoperative opioid use was the most influential predictor of second fill, with larger effect sizes than other factors even for patients with minimal or intermittent opioid use. Increasing preoperative use was associated with risk-adjusted likelihood of requiring a second opioid fill compared with naive patients [minimal use: odds ratio (OR) 1.49, 95% confidence interval (95% CI) 1.45-1.53; recent intermittent use: OR 6.51, 95% CI 6.16-6.88; high chronic use: OR 60.79, 95% CI 27.81-132.92, all P values < 0.001). CONCLUSION: Preoperative opioid use is common among patients who undergo elective surgery. Although the majority of patients infrequently fill opioids before surgery, even minimal use increases the probability of needing additional postoperative prescriptions in the 30 days after surgery when compared with opioid-naive patients. Going forward, identifying preoperative opioid use can inform surgeon prescribing and care coordination for pain management after surgery.

Questions about the HSR website? Email the Web Team

Any health information on this website is strictly for informational purposes and is not intended as medical advice. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any condition.