Prescribing and Consumption of Opioids After Primary, Unilateral Total Hip and Knee Arthroplasty in Opioid-Naive Patients

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

The Journal of arthroplasty


BACKGROUND: This cohort study was designed to determine the discrepancy between the quantity of opioid prescribed vs that which was consumed after total knee arthroplasty (TKA) and total hip arthroplasty (THA) in opioid-naive patients.

METHODS: Seven hundred twenty-three opioid-naive patients (426 TKAs and 297 THAs) from 7 hospitals in Michigan were contacted within 3 months of their surgery. Opioid prescribing and self-reported consumption was calculated in oral morphine equivalents (OMEs). Secondary outcomes included opioid refill in the first 90 days, pain in the first 7 days post-operatively, and satisfaction with pain care.

RESULTS: For TKA, the mean prescribing was 632 mg OME (±229), and the mean consumption was 416 mg (±279). For THA, the mean prescribing was 584 mg OME (±335), and the mean consumption was 285 mg (±301). There were no associations between the amount of opioid prescribed and the likelihood of refill, post-operative pain, or satisfaction with pain control. The amount of opioid prescribed was associated with increased consumption, such that each increase of 1 pill was associated with approximately an additional half pill consumed after adjusting for other covariates. Moreover, 48.2% felt that they received "More" or "Much more" opioid than they needed.

CONCLUSION: We recommend no more than 50 tablets of 5 mg oxycodone or its equivalent after TKA and 30 tablets after THA. Although dose reductions in other surgeries have not resulted in harm, continued assessment is needed to ensure that there are no unintended effects of opioid reduction, including worsened pain, decreased satisfaction, emergency department visits, or hospital readmissions.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Level III; Retrospective, cohort study.

PubMed ID






First Page


Last Page