Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

J Thorac Dis


BACKGROUND: Opioid prescribing guidelines have significantly decreased overprescribing and post-discharge use after cardiac surgery; however, limited recommendations exist for general thoracic surgery patients, a similarly high-risk population. We examined opioid prescribing and patient-reported use to develop evidence-based, opioid prescribing guidelines after lung cancer resection.

METHODS: This prospective, statewide, quality improvement study was conducted between January 2020 to March 2021 and included patients undergoing surgical resection of a primary lung cancer across 11 institutions. Patient-reported outcomes at 1-month follow-up were linked with clinical data and Society of Thoracic Surgery (STS) database records to characterize prescribing patterns and post-discharge use. The primary outcome was quantity of opioid used after discharge; secondary outcomes included quantity of opioid prescribed at discharge and patient-reported pain scores. Opioid quantities are reported in number of 5-mg oxycodone tablets (mean ± standard deviation).

RESULTS: Of the 602 patients identified, 429 met inclusion criteria. Questionnaire response rate was 65.0%. At discharge, 83.4% of patients were provided a prescription for opioids of mean size 20.5±13.1 pills, while patients reported using 8.2±13.0 pills after discharge (P<0.001), including 43.7% who used none. Those not taking opioids on the calendar day prior to discharge (32.4%) used fewer pills (4.4±8.1 vs. 11.7±14.9, P<0.001). Refill rate was 21.5% for patients provided a prescription at discharge, while 12.5% of patients not prescribed opioids at discharge required a new prescription before follow-up. Pain scores were 2.4±2.5 for incision site and 3.0±2.8 for overall pain (scale 0-10).

CONCLUSIONS: Patient-reported post-discharge opioid use, surgical approach, and in-hospital opioid use before discharge should be used to inform prescribing recommendations after lung resection.

PubMed ID






First Page


Last Page




To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.