Impact of preoperative opioid use disorder on outcomes following lumbar-spine surgery

Clin Neurol Neurosurg. 2021 Sep;208:106865. doi: 10.1016/j.clineuro.2021.106865. Epub 2021 Aug 3.


Objectives: Opioid use disorder (OUD) has previously been shown to negatively impact postoperative outcomes. As the number of spine surgeries continues to rise annually, more patients with preexisting OUD will be seen in operating rooms. Our retrospective cohort study aims to expand on the independent association between preoperative OUD and outcomes following lumbar-spine surgery.

Patients and methods: Using 2007-2014 data from the State Inpatient Databases (SID) for the states of California (2007-2011), Florida, New York, Maryland, and Kentucky, we identified patients ≥18 years of age undergoing lumbar-spine surgery. Our primary variable of interest was present-on-admission OUD. Outcomes of interest included a range of postoperative complications divided into those specific to spinal surgery and general surgical complications, length of stay (LOS), 30- and 90-day readmission rates, and total hospital charges.

Results: Of the 267,976 patients undergoing lumbar-spine surgery, 1902 patients were identified as having OUD. After adjusting for patient- and hospital-level confounders, we found that patients with OUD were more likely to experience complications related specifically to spine surgery (aOR = 1.51, 95%CI = 1.33-1.71) as well as general postoperative complications (aOR = 1.63, 95%CI = 1.36-1.96) compared to those without OUD. OUD was additionally associated with longer LOS (aIRR = 1.29, CI = 1.24-1.34) and higher total charges (aIRR = 1.14, CI = 1.11-1.18). Whereas no statistically significant difference was detected for 30-day-readmission rates, patients with OUD experienced higher rates of readmission within 90 days of discharge (aOR = 1.20, CI = 1.08-1.35).

Conclusions: Our study strengthens the evidence that patients with OUD fare poorly after lumbar-spine surgery. More research is needed to determine whether reducing opioid use before surgery can mitigate the postoperative risks associated with OUD.

Keywords: Hospital cost; Length of stay; Opioid use disorder; Postoperative complications; Spine surgery.