Importance: The association between preoperative benzodiazepine use and long-term postoperative outcomes is not well understood.
Objective: To characterize the association between preoperative benzodiazepine use and postoperative opioid use and health care costs.
Design, setting, and participants: In this cohort study, retrospective analysis of private health insurance claims data on 946 561 opioid-naive patients (no opioid prescriptions filled in the year before surgery) throughout the US was conducted. Patients underwent 1 of 11 common surgical procedures between January 1, 2004, and December 31, 2016; data analysis was performed January 9, 2020.
Exposures: Benzodiazepine use, defined as long term (≥10 prescriptions filled or ≥120 days supplied in the year before surgery) or intermittent (any use not meeting the criteria for long term).
Main outcomes and measures: The primary outcome was opioid use 91 to 365 days after surgery. Secondary outcomes included opioid use 0 to 90 days after surgery and health care costs 0 to 30 days after surgery.
Results: In this sample of 946 561 patients, the mean age was 59.8 years (range, 18-89 years); 615 065 were women (65.0%). Of these, 23 484 patients (2.5%) met the criteria for long-term preoperative benzodiazepine use and 47 669 patients (5.0%) met the criteria for intermittent use. After adjusting for confounders, long-term (odds ratio [OR], 1.59; 95% CI, 1.54-1.65; P < .001) and intermittent (OR, 1.47; 95% CI, 1.44-1.51; P < .001) benzodiazepine use were associated with an increased probability of any opioid use during postoperative days 91 to 365. For patients who used opioids in postoperative days 91 to 365, long-term benzodiazepine use was associated with a 44% increase in opioid dose (additional 0.6 mean daily morphine milligram equivalents [MMEs]; 95% CI, 0.3-0.8 MMEs; P < .001), although intermittent benzodiazepine use was not significantly different (0.0 average daily MMEs; 95% CI, -0.2 to 0.2 MMEs; P = .65). Preoperative benzodiazepine use was also associated with increased opioid use in postoperative days 0 to 90 for both long-term (32% increase, additional 1.9 average daily MMEs; 95% CI, 1.6-2.1 MMEs; P < .001) and intermittent (9% increase, additional 0.5 average daily MMEs; 95% CI, 0.4-0.6 MMEs; P < .001) users. Intermittent benzodiazepine use was associated with an increase in 30-day health care costs ($1155; 95% CI, $938-$1372; P < .001), while no significant difference was observed for long-term benzodiazepine use.
Conclusions and relevance: The findings of this study suggest that, among opioid-naive patients, preoperative benzodiazepine use may be associated with an increased risk of developing long-term opioid use and increased opioid dosages postoperatively, and also may be associated with increased health care costs.