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Clin Nephrol. 2019 Mar 13. doi: 10.5414/CN109717. [Epub ahead of print]

The association of nephrolithiasis with prescription opioid use



To characterize opioid utilization among those with nephrolithiasis in a national cohort.


We performed cross sectional analysis of participants in the Medical Expenditure Panel Surveys during 2008 - 2014. Sample weights were employed for analysis of complex survey design. Those reporting occurrence of "renal or ureteral calculus" during the survey period represented the cohort of stone formers (SFs). Receipt of opioid prescription as well as total number of opioid prescriptions filled over study period were noted.


Of 65,397 adult participants - weighted to represent 209,043,539 - 1.29% reported occurrence of nephrolithiasis. SFs were older, had higher BMI, and higher likelihood of depression and anxiety. Compared with those without nephrolithiasis, SFs had higher prevalence of opioid use (59.5 vs. 20.2%, p < 0.0001). On multivariate analysis, the odds of receiving an opioid prescription were increased greater than 5 times in SFs compared with those without stones (OR 5.61, 95% CI 4.59 - 6.85). Assessing each individual's total number of opioid prescriptions revealed SFs had a greater mean number of opioid prescriptions filled than those without nephrolithiasis (2.53 vs. 0.97, p < 0.001). Among SFs receiving opioids, depression and anxiety were both associated with a significantly greater number of opioid prescriptions (6.80 vs. 3.66, p < 0.001; and 8.91 vs. 3.38, p = 0.008, respectively).


A majority of those with renal stone occurrence receive prescription opioids. Of particular note, the presence of either depression or anxiety is associated with larger total number of opioid prescriptions over the study period.


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