Nearly half of opioid pills prescribed go unused after hysterectomies

A study, published in The Green Journal, examined opioid use among women who had undergone a hysterectomy for benign reasons.

Researchers included 102 female patients, each receiving either a laparoscopic (43.1 percent), vaginal (41.2 percent) or abdominal (15.7 percent) hysterectomy. They gathered information about opioid consumption two weeks after hysterectomy using telephone surveys and written documentation.

The researchers found patients were routinely prescribed about 40 hydrocodone pills, but had nearly 22 leftover on average. Ninety-seven percent of women reported experiencing adequate pain control, and 40 percent felt that they received more opioids than necessary. Additionally, the study shows individual patient characteristics, such as chronic pain elsewhere in the body before surgery, was linked to higher than average opioid use after hysterectomy.

"A hysterectomy is the most common surgical procedure performed in nonpregnant women, which is why this a critical target for improvement in opioid prescribing," said lead study author Sawsan As-Sanie, MD, a gynecological surgeon at University of Michigan's Von Voigtlander Women's Hospital and an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the U-M Medical School, both based in Ann Arbor.

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