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Patterns of opioid use in dialysis access procedures.

  • Janek, Kevin C1
  • Bennett, Kyla M2
  • Imbus, Joseph R2
  • Danobeitia, Juan S2
  • Philip, Jennifer L2
  • Melnick, David M2
  • 1 Department of Surgery, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, Wisc. Electronic address: [email protected]
  • 2 Department of Surgery, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, Wisc.
Published Article
Journal of vascular surgery
Publication Date
Sep 01, 2020
DOI: 10.1016/j.jvs.2019.12.033
PMID: 32115321


Overprescription of opioids after surgical procedures is recognized as an important contributor to opioid misuse. Dialysis access procedures are commonly performed outpatient operations with few data or guidelines to inform prescription pain management practices. We sought to characterize opioid pain medication use after dialysis access surgery to promote a conservative approach to postoperative opioid prescriptions. We performed a retrospective review of patients who underwent surgical dialysis access procedures from August 2018 through January 2019. Patient-reported opioid use information was captured in a brief questionnaire administered during routine follow-up appointments or phone calls and recorded in the electronic medical record. The procedure, type of intraoperative anesthesia or analgesia, postoperative prescription provided, and patient factors (including age, sex, dialysis type, history of chronic pain, and preoperative opioid or benzodiazepine use) were recorded. All procedures were classified by type (arteriovenous fistula or graft with a short incision [AVF-S], arteriovenous fistula or graft with a long incision [AVF-L], or peritoneal dialysis [PD] catheter), and descriptive statistics were performed using R (R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria). Eighty-six patients underwent dialysis access procedures in the study time frame, of whom 63 were administered the pain questionnaire and 58 quantified opioid use; 85% of patients received a prescription, but 31% took no opioids and 71% used opioids for ≤2 days. Interquartile ranges (25th-75th percentile) of prescription and consumption quantities for patients who underwent AVF-L procedures were 10 to 28 pills and 2.5 to 20 pills; for patients who underwent AVF-S, quantities were 4.0 to 8.4 pills and 0 to 4.3 pills; and PD quantities were 10 pills and 3.3 to 9 pills. Thirty-one patients (53%) reported receiving more pain medication than they used, which resulted in a median of 8 excess pills per patient with an unused pill interquartile range of 0 to 22 pills for AVF-L procedures, 0 to 4.2 pills for AVF-S procedures, and 1.3 to 6.7 pills for PD procedures. Patients who were prescribed oxycodone or had a repeated operation had significantly increased opioid use. This investigation of opioid use after surgical dialysis access procedures suggests that most patients use relatively few opioid pills after surgery, which translates into overprescription and leftover medication for >50% of patients. A conservative approach to postoperative prescription guidelines using lower prescription quantities would encourage opioid-related risk reduction while providing adequate postoperative analgesia. Recommended quantities for postoperative prescriptions were generated using the 80th percentile consumed and were 0 to 6 pills for brachiobasilic or brachiocephalic fistulas, 0 to 5 pills for basilic vein transposition, 0 to 5 pills for radiocephalic AVF, 0 to 15 pills for upper arm grafts, and 0 to 10 pills for PD catheter placement. Published by Elsevier Inc.

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