Study Design: Retrospective review. Objective: Our purpose was to evaluate factors associated with increased risk of prolonged post-operative opioid pain medication usage following spine surgery, as well as identify the risk of various post-operative complications that may be associated with pre-operative opioid usage. Methods: The MarketScan commercial claims and encounters database includes approximately 39 million patients per year. Patients undergoing cervical and lumbar spine surgery between the years 2005-2014 were identified using CPT codes. Pre-operative comorbidities including DSM-V mental health disorders, chronic pain, chronic regional pain syndrome (CRPS), obesity, tobacco use, medications, and diabetes were queried and documented. Patients who utilized opioids from 1-3 months prior to surgery were identified. This timeframe was chosen to exclude patients who had been prescribed pre- and post-operative narcotic medications up to 1 month prior to surgery. We utilized odds ratios (OR), 95% Confidence Intervals (CI), and regression analysis to determine factors that are associated with prolonged post-operative opioid use at 3 time intervals. Results: 553,509 patients who underwent spine surgery during the 10-year period were identified. 34.9% of patients utilized opioids 1-3 months pre-operatively. 25% patients were still utilizing opioids at 6 weeks, 17.3% at 3 months, 12.7% at 6 months, and 9.0% at 1 year after surgery. Pre-operative opioid exposure was associated with increased likelihood of post-operative use at 6-12 weeks (OR 5.45, 95% CI 5.37-5.53), 3-6 months (OR 6.48, 95% CI 6.37-6.59), 6-12 months (OR 6.97, 95% CI 6.84-7.11), and >12 months (OR 7.12, 95% CI 6.96-7.29). Mental health diagnosis, tobacco usage, diagnosis of chronic pain or CRPS, and non-narcotic neuromodulatory medications yielded increased likelihood of prolonged post-op opioid usage. Conclusions: Pre-operative narcotic use and several patient comorbidities diagnoses are associated with prolonged post-operative opioid usage following spine surgery. Chronic opioid use, diagnosis of chronic pain, or use of non-narcotic neuromodulatory medications have the highest risk of prolonged post-operative opioid consumption. Patients using opiates pre-operatively did have an increased 30 and 90-day readmission risk, in addition to a number of serious post-operative complications. This data provides spine surgeons a number of variables to consider when determining post-operative analgesia strategies, and provides health systems, providers, and payers with information on complications associated with pre-operative opioid utilization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)683-688
Number of pages6
JournalGlobal Spine Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Clinical Neurology


Dive into the research topics of 'Risk Factors For Prolonged Opioid Use After Spine Surgery'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this