Postdischarge Pain Management After Thoracic Surgery: A Patient-Centered Approach

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The Annals of Thoracic Surgery

MeSH Headings

Aged; Aged, 80 and over; Analgesics, Opioid (therapeutic use); Female; Humans; Male; Middle Aged; Pain Management (methods); Pain, Postoperative (drug therapy); Patient-Centered Care (methods); Prospective Studies; Thoracic Surgical Procedures


BACKGROUND: Postoperative analgesia is paramount to recovery after thoracic surgery, and opioids play an invaluable role in this process. However, current 1-size-fits-all prescribing practices produce large quantities of unused opioids, thereby increasing the risk of nonmedical use and overdose. This study hypothesized that patient and perioperative characteristics, including 24-hour before-discharge opioid intake, could inform more appropriate postdischarge prescriptions after thoracic surgery. METHODS: This prospective observational cohort study was conducted in 200 adult thoracic surgical patients. The cohort was divided into 3 groups on the basis of 24-hour before-discharge opioid intake in morphine milligram equivalents (MME): (1) no (0 MME), (2) low (>0 to ≤22.5 MME), or (3) high (>22.5 MME) before-discharge opioid intake. Logistic regression was used to analyze the association of patient and perioperative characteristics with self-reported after-discharge opioid use. RESULTS: Univariate analysis showed that preoperative opioid use, 24-hour before-discharge acetaminophen and gabapentinoid intake, and 24-hour before-discharge opioid intake were associated with higher after-discharge opioid use. Multivariable modeling demonstrated that 24-hour before-discharge opioid intake was most significantly associated with after-discharge opioid use. For example, compared with patients who took high amounts of opioids before discharge, patients who took no opioids before discharge were 99% less likely to take a high amount of opioids after discharge compared with taking none (odds ratio, 0.011; 95% confidence interval, 0.003 to 0.047; P < .001). CONCLUSIONS: Assessment of 24-hour before-discharge opioid intake may inform patient requirements after discharge. Opioid prescriptions after thoracic surgery can thereby be targeted on the basis of anticipated needs.

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