Factors Associated With New Persistent Opioid Usage After Lung Resection

Ann Thorac Surg. 2019 Feb;107(2):363-368. doi: 10.1016/j.athoracsur.2018.08.057. Epub 2018 Oct 11.


Background: Opioid dependence, misuse, and abuse in the United States continue to rise. Prior studies indicate an important risk factor for persistent opioid use includes elective surgical procedures, though the probability following thoracic procedures remains unknown. We analyzed the incidence and factors associated with new persistent opioid use after lung resection.

Methods: We evaluated data from opioid-naïve cancer patients undergoing lung resection between 2010 and 2014 using insurance claims from the Truven Health MarketScan Databases. New persistent opioid usage was defined as continued opioid prescription fills between 90 and 180 days following surgery. Variables with a p value less than 0.10 by univariate analysis were included in a multivariable logistic regression performed for risk adjustment. Multivariable results were each reported with odds ratio (OR) and confidence interval (CI).

Results: A total of 3,026 patients (44.8% men, 55.2% women) were identified as opioid-naïve undergoing lung resection. Mean age was 64 ± 11 years and mean postoperative length of stay was 5.2 ± 3.3 days. A total of 6.5% underwent neoadjuvant therapy, while 21.7% underwent adjuvant therapy. Among opioid-naïve patients, 14% continued to fill opioid prescriptions following lung resection. Multivariable analysis showed that age less than or equal to 64 years (OR, 1.28; 95% CI, 1.03 to 1.59; p = 0.028), male sex (OR, 1.40; 95% CI, 1.13 to 1.73; p = 0.002), postoperative length of stay (OR, 1.32; 95% CI, 1.05 to 1.65; p = 0.016), thoracotomy (OR, 1.58; 95% CI, 1.24 to 2.02; p < 0.001), and adjuvant therapy (OR, 2.19; 95% CI, 1.75 to 2.75; p < 0.001) were independent risk factors for persistent opioid usage.

Conclusions: The greatest risk factors for persistent opioid use (14%) following lung resection were adjuvant therapy and thoracotomy. Future studies should focus on reducing excess prescribing, perioperative patient education, and safe opioid disposal.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics, Opioid / adverse effects*
  • Analgesics, Opioid / therapeutic use
  • Databases, Factual
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / etiology
  • Pain, Postoperative / drug therapy*
  • Pneumonectomy*
  • Prognosis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • United States / epidemiology


  • Analgesics, Opioid