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A small study looked at whether reducing the number of opioid tablets prescribed after knee surgery would reduce postoperative use and if preoperative opioid-use education would reduce it even more.
The study included 264 patients who underwent anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) surgery at a single academic ambulatory surgery center. They were divided into three groups: 109 were prescribed 50 opioid tablets after surgery; 78 patients were prescribed 30 tablets and before surgery received education on appropriate opioid use and alternative pain control strategies; and 77 patients received 30 tablets and no education.
Patients were surveyed about their opioid use three weeks after surgery. Researchers report patients who received 50 tablets consumed more tablets (an average of 25) and for more days (nearly 6) than those given 30 tablets and no education who consumed less (an average of about 16) and for fewer days (about 4½). Patients who received 30 tablets and preoperative education used fewer tablets (average of about 12) and for fewer days (about 3½) than patients who received 30 tablets but no opioid use education.
A limitation of the study to consider is that was conducted at just one surgery center and the patient group was young.