Background: The use of intraoperative opioids may influence the rate of postoperative complications. This study evaluated the association between intraoperative opioid dose and the risk of 30-day hospital readmission. Methods: We conducted a pre-specified analysis of existing registry data for 153 902 surgical cases performed under general anaesthesia at Massachusetts General Hospital and two affiliated medical centres. We examined the association between total intraoperative opioid dose (categorised in quintiles) and 30-day hospital readmission, controlling for several patient-, anaesthetist-, and case-specific factors. Results: Compared with low intraoperative opioid dosing [quintile 1, median (inter-quartile range): 8 (4–9) mg morphine equivalents], exposure to high-dose opioids during surgery [quintile 5: 32 (27–41) equivalents] is an independent predictor of 30-day readmission [odds ratio (OR) 1.15 (95% confidence interval 1.07–1.24); P<0.001]. Ambulatory surgery patients receiving high opioid doses were found to have the greatest adjusted risk of readmission (OR 1.75; P<0.001) with a clear dose–response effect across quintiles (P for trend <0.05), and were more likely to be readmitted early (postoperative days 0–2 vs 3–30; P<0.001). Opioid class modified the association between total opioid dose and readmission, with longer-acting opioids demonstrating a stronger influence (P<0.001). We observed significant practice variability across individual anaesthetists in the utilisation of opioids that could not be explained by patient- and case-specific factors. Conclusions: High intraoperative opioid dose is a modifiable anaesthetic factor that varies in the practice of individual anaesthetists and affects postoperative outcomes. Conservative standards for intraoperative opioid dosing may reduce the risk of postoperative readmission, particularly in ambulatory surgery.
- patient readmission
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine