Opioid Use after Radical Prostatectomy: Nationwide, Population Based Study in Sweden

J Urol. 2020 Jan;203(1):145-150. doi: 10.1097/JU.0000000000000451. Epub 2019 Jul 17.


Purpose: North American studies have revealed that about 3% to 7% of opioid naïve surgical patients transition to chronic opioid use after a single prescription. We examined the risk of chronic opioid use following radical prostatectomy using nationwide Swedish data.

Materials and methods: A total of 25,703 men in the National Prostate Cancer Register of Sweden who underwent radical prostatectomy were linked to the Prescribed Drug Register. Opioid use was assessed at 3 times, including baseline (13 months to 1 month preoperatively), perioperatively (1 month before and after) and postoperatively (1 to 12 months). Multivariable logistic regression was done to identify predictors of new late use (1 or more opioid prescriptions in 3 consecutive months more than 2 months after surgery).

Results: Overall 16,368 men (64%) filled an opioid prescription during the 13 months before or after surgery. The use of strong opioids increased with time and the use of weak opioids decreased. Of the men 1.9% had opioid prescriptions during the baseline period, followed by a spike to 59% around the time surgery, which sharply decreased in month 2 postoperatively. However, thereafter the proportion of men with opioid prescriptions remained slightly higher at 2.2% compared to the baseline before radical prostatectomy. Of chronic late users 57% were previous users and 43% were new chronic users. Higher cancer risk category, greater comorbidity, unmarried status and low educational level were associated with the risk of new chronic opioid use.

Conclusions: Slightly more than half of male Swedish patients filled an opioid prescription after radical prostatectomy and less than 1% became chronic opioid users. These rates are lower than in previous studies of postoperative opioid use from North America.

Keywords: Sweden; analgesics; opioid; opioid-related disorders; pain; prostatic neoplasms.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Analgesics, Opioid / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • Pain, Postoperative / drug therapy*
  • Prostatectomy*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Registries
  • Sweden / epidemiology


  • Analgesics, Opioid