Background: Persistent opioid use following surgery has received increasing attention from policymakers, researchers, and clinicians. Perioperative nerve blockade has been hypothesized to decrease the risk of persistent opioid use. We examined whether nerve blockade was associated with a decreased risk of persistent opioid use among patients undergoing shoulder arthroplasty, a procedure with high rates of persistent postoperative pain.
Methods: Using health care claims data, we constructed a sample of 6695 patients undergoing shoulder arthroplasty between 2002 and 2012 and used billing data to identify the utilization of nerve blockade. We then used a multivariable logistic regression to estimate the association between nerve blockade and 2 measures of opioid use: having filled at least 1 prescription for an opioid between postoperative days (PODs) 0 and 90, and between POD 91 and 365. This regression adjusted for a variety of potential confounders, such as preoperative opioid use and medical history.
Results: There was no association between nerve blockade and our 2 measures of persistent opioid use: adjusted odds ratio, 1.12 (97.5% confidence interval, 0.939-1.34; P = .15) for opioid use between POD 0 and 90, and adjusted odds ratio, 0.997 (97.5% confidence interval, 0.875-1.14; P = .95) for opioid use between POD 91 and 365.
Conclusions: Although the use of perioperative nerve blockade may offer short-term benefits, in this study, it was not associated with a reduction in the risk of persistent opioid use for patients undergoing shoulder arthroplasty.