A new study suggests that surgeons may refrain from prescribing opioids after regular surgeries, avoiding the possibility of long-term use of painkillers.
Published in Annals of Surgery by a team from Michigan Medicine, University of Michigan Academic Medical Center, researchers analyzed 2019 data from a state surgical care registry and examined patients about their experience after having a chance to recover.
Eighty-six percent of patients received a prescription for an opioid after having a hernia, gallbladder, appendix, bowel, thyroid or gynecological surgery and when the researchers compared these patients' experiences and questionnaire responses with data from the 1
Overall, an equal proportion – 12% – of both patient groups had a serious side effect within 30 days of their first surgery. . Specifically, there was no difference in complications, emergency department visits or reoperations between groups. Patients who were not prescribed opioids were slightly more likely to be hospitalized, but rarely due to pain-related problems.
There was also no difference in the proportion who sought emergency care for pain, according to the survey results.  The study, which was conducted one to three months after surgery, asked patients about their pain for the first seven days after leaving the hospital, their satisfaction with care, their quality of life, and their level of remorse for having surgery. Almost 60% of patients completed it.
Those who did not receive a prescription for opioids reported more pain in the first week after surgery than those who did: 12% versus 7%. The non-opioid patients were also slightly more likely to say that they had the best possible quality of life after the operation: 66% compared to 63%.