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Opioid use after nephrectomy for kidney cancer in Ontario: a population-based study


Objective — To compare the odds of early and prolonged post-operative opioid use in patients undergoing minimally invasive surgery (MIS) versus open surgery for nephrectomy.

Methods — For opioid-naïve patients in Ontario who underwent nephrectomy for kidney cancer (1994-2017, n=7900), post-discharge opioid use was determined by prescriptions in the Ontario Drug Benefit database (age ≥65 years) and the Narcotics Monitoring System (all patients from 2012). Early opioid use was defined as ≥ 1 prescription 1-90 days after surgery. Two separate definitions of prolonged opioid use were examined: (1) prescription(s) for ≥ 60 days during post-operative days 90-365; (2) ≥ 1 prescriptions between both of: 1-90 days AND 91-180 days after surgery. Predictors of opioid use were assessed using multivariable generalized estimating equation logistic regression, accounting for surgeon clustering.

Results — Overall, 67.4% of patients received early opioid prescriptions; however, prolonged use was low, ranging from 1.6 to 4.4% of patients depending on the definition. In multivariable analysis, open nephrectomy was associated with higher odds of early opioid use compared to MIS nephrectomy (Odds Ratio [OR] 1.36, 95% Confidence Interval [CI] 1.19–1.55). Surgery type was not significantly associated with prolonged opioid use for either definition (OR 1.22, CI 0.79 1.89 and OR 1.06, CI 0.83, 1.35).

Conclusions — In this population-level study of patients undergoing nephrectomy for kidney cancer, patients who received open surgery were at increased odds of receiving early post-operative opioids compared to MIS. Prolonged opioid use was low overall and was not significantly with associated with type of surgery.



Cheung DC, Martin LJ, Jivraj NK, Clarke H, Gomes T, Wijeysundera DN, Diong C, Nayan M, Saarela O, Alibhai SMH, Komisarenko M, Fleshner NE, Kulkarni GS, Finelli A. Urology. 2022; 164:118-23. Epub 2022 Feb 16.

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