The effect of bariatric surgery on opioid consumption in patients with obesity: a registry-based cohort study
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BACKGROUND: Misuse of opioid medication has become a major health crisis in several countries. A significant number of patients with obesity use opioid medications, mostly to alleviate symptoms due to obesity-related co-morbidities. OBJECTIVE: To compare patterns of opioid drug usage before and after bariatric surgery in this population, hypothesizing that weight loss and improvement of obesity-related co-morbidities could reduce opioid consumption. SETTING: The Ontario Bariatric Registry (Ontario, Canada). METHODS: In this retrospective cohort study, the Ontario Bariatric Registry was used to compare opioid consumption in adult patients undergoing bariatric surgery between 2010 and 2021. The primary outcome was the number of patients using opioid medication at 1 year after surgery. Multiple logistic regression analyses were performed to identify potential predictors of opioid consumption. RESULTS: Data of 11,179 patients were analyzed. Mean age was 45.7 ± 10.2 years, mean baseline body mass index was 48.9 ± 8 kg/m2, and 83.6% of patients were female. Roux-en-Y gastric bypass was performed in the majority of patients (85.6%), followed by sleeve gastrectomy (14.2%). At baseline, opioids were used by 7.7% and nonopioid pain medications by 42.3% of patients. At 1 year after surgery, these numbers significantly decreased (Δ-1.9% and Δ-18.0%, respectively). The decrease in the consumption of nonopioid pain medication needs to be interpreted in the context of the contraindication to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs after Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, which was the most commonly performed procedure. Presence of musculoskeletal pain and use of nonopioid pain medication at baseline were identified as independent predictors of opioid consumption at 1 year after surgery. CONCLUSIONS: At 1 year after bariatric surgery, a significant decrease in opioid and nonopioid pain medication consumption was seen among patients with obesity. Aggressive management of excess weight, especially with bariatric surgery, can potentially reduce the impact of the opioid crisis in this population.
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