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Anesth Analg. 2017 Sep;125(3):999-1007. doi: 10.1213/ANE.0000000000001943.

Lack of Association Between the Use of Nerve Blockade and the Risk of Postoperative Chronic Opioid Use Among Patients Undergoing Total Knee Arthroplasty: Evidence From the Marketscan Database.

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From the *Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford University, Stanford, California; †Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care and Pain Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts; ‡Department of Anesthesiology, Hospital for Special Surgery, New York, New York; §Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care, University of Pennsylvania, School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; ‖Anesthesiology and Perioperative Care Service, Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System, Palo Alto, California; ¶Department of Health Research and Policy, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford University, Stanford, California; and #National Bureau of Economic Research, Cambridge, Massachusetts.



Total knee arthroplasty (TKA) is associated with high rates of prolonged opioid use after surgery (10%-34%). By decreasing opioid use in the immediate postoperative period, perioperative nerve blockade has been hypothesized to decrease the risk of persistent opioid use.


Using health care utilization data, we constructed a sample of 120,080 patients undergoing TKA between 2002 and 2012 and used billing data to identify the utilization of peripheral or neuraxial blockade. We then used a multivariable logistic regression to estimate the association between nerve blockade and the risk of chronic opioid use, defined as having filled ≥10 prescriptions or ≥120 days' supply for an opioid in the first postsurgical year. Our analyses were adjusted for an extensive set of potential confounding variables, including medical comorbidities, previous opioid use, and previous use of other medications.


We did not find an association between nerve blockade and the risk of postsurgical chronic opioid use across any of these 3 groups: adjusted relative risk (ARR) 0.984 for patients opioid-naïve in the year before surgery (98.3% confidence interval [CI], 0.870-1.12, P = .794), ARR 1.02 for intermittent opioid users (98.3% CI, 0.948-1.09, P = .617), and ARR 0.986 (98.3% CI, 0.963-1.01, P = .257) for chronic opioid users. Similar results held for alternative measures of postsurgical opioid use.


Although the use of perioperative nerve blockade for TKA may improve short-term outcomes, the analyzed types of blocks do not appear to decrease the risk of persistent opioid use in the longer term.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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