Reassessing Opioid Use in Breast Surgery

Victoria Huynh, Kristin Rojas, Gretchen Ahrendt, Colleen Murphy, Kshama Jaiswal, Ethan Cumbler, Nicole Christian, Sarah Tevis
Journal of Surgical Research 2020 May 28, 254: 232-241

BACKGROUND: This study aims to assess multimodal pain management and opioid prescribing practices in patients undergoing breast surgery.

METHODS: A retrospective review of patients undergoing breast surgery at an academic medical center between April 1, 2018 and September 30, 2019, was performed. Patients with a history of recent opioid use or conditions precluding use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or acetaminophen (APAP) were excluded. Opioid-sparing pain regimens were assessed. Opioids prescribed on discharge were recorded as oral morphine equivalents (OMEs) and concordance with the Opioid Prescribing Engagement Network (OPEN) determined.

RESULTS: The total study population consisted of 518 patients. 358 patients underwent minor outpatient procedures (sentinel lymph node biopsy, lumpectomy, and excisional biopsy), 10-40% of whom were appropriately prescribed as per the OPEN. Perioperatively, 53.9% of patients received APAP, 24.6% NSAIDs, 20.4% gabapentin, and 0.3% blocks; intraoperatively, 95.8% received local anesthetic and 25.7% ketorolac. For mastectomy without reconstruction, 63-88% of prescriptions were concordant with the OPEN. For mastectomy with reconstruction, discharge opioids ranged from 25 to 400 OMEs with a mean of 134.4 OMEs; 25% of patients received a refill. Of all patients undergoing mastectomy ± reconstruction, 62.5% received APAP, 18.8% NSAIDs, 38.8% pregabalin, and 20.6% locoregional block perioperatively; 37.5% received local anesthetic and 15.6% ketorolac intraoperatively. Of 143 inpatient stays, 89% received APAP, 38% NSAID, and 29% benzodiazepines; 29 patients received no opioids inpatient but were still prescribed 25-200 OMEs on discharge.

CONCLUSIONS: There is need for a multidisciplinary approach to pain management with the use of enhanced recovery after surgery protocols as potential means to standardize perioperative regimens and mitigate opioid overprescription.

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