The Journal of Arthroplasty, Volume 35, Issue 4, 966 - 970

What Happens to Unused Opioids After Total Joint Arthroplasty? An Evaluation of Unused Postoperative Opioid Disposal Practices

Kunkel, Samuel T. et al.
Hip Knee


This study evaluates the fate of unused opioids after total hip arthroplasty (THA) and total knee arthroplasty (TKA) at our facility.


Medication disposal after primary elective THA and TKA was classified as appropriate (in accordance with United States Food and Drug Administration guidelines) or inappropriate for all patients undergoing these procedures during the second half of the fiscal year 2015.


In total, 199 THAs and 144 TKAs met inclusion criteria. Total pills prescribed were 55,635. Approximately 8925 (16%) of pills were unused. About 39.9% of patients disposed of unused opioids appropriately, while 60.1% of patients reported still having (18.5%), not knowing where they were (8.2%), or other (33.4%). There was no significant association with the type of opioid prescribed.


A large volume of unused opioids were improperly disposed of after total joint arthroplasty.

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