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Opioid prescribing practices for women undergoing elective gynecologic surgery

Chan WV, Le B, Lam M, Shariff SZ, Gomes T, Lipscombe L, Murji A. J Minim Invasive Gynecol. 2021; 28(7):1325-33.e3. Epub 2021 Jan 24. DOI:

Study Objective — To describe the opioid prescribing practices in opioid-naïve women undergoing elective gynecologic surgery for benign indications and identify risk factors associated with increased perioperative opioid use. We also explored factors associated with new persistent opioid use in women with perioperative opioid use.

Design — Retrospective, population-based cohort study.

Setting — We used linked administrative data from a government-administered single-payer provincial healthcare system in Canada. This study was undertaken at ICES, a not-for-profit research institute in Ontario, Canada.

Patients — We followed opioid-naïve adult women who underwent benign elective gynecologic surgery between 2013 and 2018.

Interventions — None

Measurements and Main Results — The primary outcome was peri-operative opioid use defined as ≥1 opioid prescription from 30 days before to 14 days after surgery. New persistent opioid use after gynecologic surgery was defined as having filled 1 or more opioid prescriptions between 91 days to 180 days postoperatively. Multivariable log-linear regression analyses were employed to adjust for clinical and demographic data.

Of the 132 506 patients included in our cohort, most (74.3%) underwent minor gynecologic procedures. Perioperative opioid use was documented in 27 763 (21.0%) patients, and there was a significant decreasing trend (p <.001) in the proportion of patients with perioperative opioid use from 21.8% in 2013 to 18.5% in 2018. Factors associated with increased perioperative opioid use included younger age; higher income quintile; urban dwellers; and diagnosis of infertility, endometriosis, or adnexal mass. Perioperative opioid use was an independent risk factor for persistent use (adjusted relative risk 1.40; 95% confidence interval, 1.13–1.72) and for every 65 patients prescribed opioids associated with gynecologic surgery, one developed new persistent opioid use. The highest risk factor for developing persistent use was filling a high-dose opioid prescription (adjusted relative risk5th quintileOME 2.33; 95% confidence interval, 1.83–2.96).

Conclusion — One in 5 women who undergo a gynecologic procedure has a new exposure to opioids. For every 65 patients who fill an opioid prescription after their gynecologic surgery, one will experience prolonged opioid use.

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