Prior opioid use can cause colorectal surgery complications

Prior opioid use can cause colorectal surgery complications

Patients who used opioids, sedatives, or antidepressants before colorectal surgery experienced significantly more post-surgery complications, according to a University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center study.

Researchers examined 1,201 patients at UK HealthCare who were at least 18 years old and who underwent colorectal resection for a reason other than trauma. They discovered that approximately 18 percent of patients used sedatives legally prescribed by a doctor pre-operatively, while 28 percent used antidepressants, and 30 percent used opioids.

These patients had an increase in several common post-surgery complications, but complications were seen most in opioid users. Complications include respiratory failure, longer length of stay, prolonged intubation, infections, readmissions, and death.

“Most colorectal resections are elective in nature, so we want to focus on the use of opioids and sedatives and counsel patients on the need to decrease the use of these drugs before surgery,” Dr. Avinash Bhakta, a colorectal surgeon at the UK Markey Cancer Center and lead author on the study, said. “These drugs are necessary for many patients, but if we can decrease how much they’re using, we can help decrease long-term complications. Not only do we want to improve their surgical outcomes, we want to improve their overall health.”