The Journal of Arthroplasty , Volume 34 , Issue 4 , 638 - 644.e1

Benchmarks of Duration and Magnitude of Opioid Consumption After Total Hip and Knee Arthroplasty: A Database Analysis of 69,368 Patients

Cook, David J. et al.
Hip Knee


Opioid prescribing after orthopedic surgeries varies widely, and there is little consensus establishing proper standards of care. This retrospective cohort study examines opioid prescribing trends following total hip (THA) and knee (TKA) arthroplasty and evaluates preoperative opioid use as a predictor of duration and magnitude of postoperative opioid use.


Patients who underwent THA or TKA in a nationwide insurance database were stratified by preoperative opioid use. Naive, sporadic, and chronic users were defined as 0, 1, or 2+ prescriptions filled 6 months before surgery. Patients were excluded for readmission or subsequent surgery. Duration of opioid use was defined as time between the procedure and the last opioid prescription record, and magnitude of opioid use was defined as quantity of pills filled by 30 days postop.


Naive patients were less likely than chronic users to fill any opioid prescription after surgery (THA: 61.5% naive vs 90.4% chronic, TKA: 72.0% naive vs 95.9% chronic), and they obtained fewer pills (THA: 73 pills naive vs 126 pills chronic, TKA: 86 pills naive vs 126 pills chronic, 5-mg oxycodone equivalent). Between 10% (THA) and 13% (TKA) of naive and between 47% (THA) and 62% (TKA) of chronic users continued opioid use at 1 year postop.


Chronic users obtain more opioids postoperatively and continue filling prescriptions for longer than naive patients. This work benchmarks norms regarding opioid use and furthermore these data highlight the powerful effect of opioid exposure during surgery as 10%-13% of naive patients continued opioids at 1 year postop.

Download article