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The use of opioids nine months after surgery for Crohn's disease - a nationwide cohort study.

BACKGROUND: The risk of chronic opioid use after surgery for Crohn's disease (CD) is not known.

AIM: The aim of this study is to examine the chronic opioid use after surgery according to age at time of surgery and to opioid use prior to surgery.

METHODS: This nationwide cohort study included patients with a first surgery for CD (January 1, 1996 through 2021). We examined prescribed opioids 9 months after surgery and estimated adjusted odds ratios (OR) for chronic opioid use in elderly (≥60 years), adults (≥40 and <60 years), and young adults (≥18 and <40 years) according to opioid use prior to surgery. Chronic opioid use was defined as prescriptions in at least two of three consecutive quarters.

RESULTS: A total of 797 patients had surgery as elderly, 1603 as adults, and 2786 as young adults. Across all age groups, 18%-38% received opioid prescriptions throughout 9 months after surgery, if opioids were prescribed prior to surgery. If opioids were not prescribed prior to surgery, the corresponding proportions were 2%-5%. If patients were prescribed opioids (≥1) prior to surgery, the adjusted ORs (95% CIs) for their chronic use after surgery in elderly, adults, and young adults were 10.37 (6.77-15.88), 10.48 (7.74-14.19), and 6.55 (4.93-8.72), respectively.

CONCLUSION: Clinicians should be aware that in patients with a need for opioids before surgery, the surgery may not change the need for opioids. Future research should examine effective analgesic strategies that help minimise opioid use in this population.

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