Wide Variation in Opioid Prescribing After Urological Surgery in Tertiary Care Centers

Matthew J. Ziegelmann, Jason P. Joseph, Amy E. Glasgow, Mark D. Tyson, Raymond W. Pak, Halena M. Gazelka, Ashton L. Schatz, Bradley C. Leibovich, Elizabeth B. Habermann, Matthew T. Gettman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Objective: To describe postoperative opioid prescribing practices in a large cohort of patients undergoing urological surgery. Patients and Methods: We identified 11,829 patients who underwent 21 urological surgical procedures at 3 associated facilities from January 1, 2015, through December 31, 2016. After converting opioids to oral morphine equivalents (OMEs), prescribing patterns were compared within and across procedures. Subgroup analysis for opioid-naive patients (those without a history of long-term opioid use) was performed. Statistical analysis was utilized to evaluate variations based on demographic and perioperative/postoperative variables. Results: Of the 11,829 patients, 9229 (78.0%) were prescribed an opioid at discharge, and the median (interquartile range [IQR]) OME prescribed was 188 (150-225). The remaining 9253 patients (78.2%) were considered opioid naive. Striking variation in prescribing patterns was observed within and across surgical procedures. For instance, IQR ranges of 150 or greater were observed for open cystectomy (median, 300; IQR, 210-375], open radical nephrectomy (median, 300; IQR, 225-375), retroperitoneal node dissection (median, 300; IQR, 225-375), hand-assisted laparoscopic nephrectomy (median, 225; IQR, 150-300), and penile prosthesis (median, 225; IQR, 150-315). On multivariate analysis, younger age, cancer diagnosis, and inpatient hospitalization were associated with higher likelihood of receiving a highest-quartile OME prescription for opioid naive patients. Thirty-day refill rates varied from 1.6% to 25.9%. Interestingly, refill rates were higher in patients receiving more opioids at discharge. Conclusion: The United States is facing an opioid epidemic, and physicians must take action. In this study, we found considerable variation in opioid prescribing patterns within and across surgical procedures. These data provide support for the development of standardized opioid prescribing guidelines for postoperative analgesia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)262-274
Number of pages13
JournalMayo Clinic proceedings
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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