Underutilization of Nonopioid Pain Medication in Patients Undergoing Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Repair

John Phair, Matthew Carnevale, Dov Levine, Evan C. Lipsitz, Larry Scher, Saadat Shariff, Karan Garg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: With increased focus on the opioid crisis, it was our goal to describe rates and risk factors for postoperative use of opioids in patients undergoing abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) repair as well as identify pain modalities that are underutilized. Methods: We retrospectively analyzed perioperative analgesic prescriptions for endovascular (EVAR) and open AAA repair between January 1, 2010 and January 1, 2018. Patients’ baseline opioid use, demographics, and medical comorbidities were obtained. The EVAR group was further subdivided into percutaneous (pEVAR) and cutdown (cEVAR) groups. Primary outcomes were postoperative and discharge pain medication prescriptions. Relative rates of opioid prescribing were obtained through the electronic medical record and normalized into morphine milligram equivalents (MMEs). Results: Of the 128 patients analyzed in the entire cohort, 21.8% (n = 28) underwent open repair and 78.12% (n = 100) underwent EVAR (46 pEVAR, 54 cEVAR). As expected, open repair had increased postoperative pain reported compared to EVAR (2.67 ± 0.75 vs. 0.96 ± 0.19, P < 0.01). Adjunctive epidural reduced postoperative pain for open repair (0.77 ± 0.48 vs. 3.50 ± 0.96, P < 0.01). EVAR had less postoperative opioid prescriptions compared to open repair (35.0% vs. 77.3%, P < 0.01). In the endovascular group, there was no difference between postoperative opioid prescription based on access, pEVAR versus cEVAR (65.8% vs. 80.1%, P = 0.11). When stratifying patients by number of cutdowns, patients with bilateral cutdown as opposed to a single cutdown received more opioid prescriptions than pEVAR patients (84.44% vs. 65.8%, P = 0.036). Of those receiving opioids, the average MME for open repair was 320.94 mg compared to 28.82 mg for EVAR (P < 0.01). Those undergoing percutaneous repair had significantly less MME use during hospitalization compared to femoral cutdown (17 ± 3.52 vs. 31.90 ± 5.43 mg, P < 0.01). Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and ketorolac, were rarely used in the postoperative period for open or EVAR (8.3% vs 1.1%). Percutaneous EVAR patients reported less pain at discharge compared to cEVAR patients (0.18 ± 0.12 vs. 0.88 ± 0.29, P = 0.036). Open and EVAR had comparable low rates of NSAID and acetaminophen prescriptions at discharge. Open patients had longer postoperative length of stay compared to EVAR patients (9.82 ± 1.27 vs. 3.86 ± 0.47, P < 0.01). pEVAR had a shorter length of postoperative course compared to cEVAR (3.2 ± 0.26 vs. 4.12 ± 0.30, P < 0.01). Patients undergoing EVAR with use of pain medications amounting to <20 MME had a significantly shorter length of stay. Conclusions: This single institutional retrospective study evaluated pain prescription patterns for patients undergoing AAA repair. AAA patients are predominantly treated with opioid pain medications with few adjunctive therapies. Intraoperative epidural and pEVAR may aid in decreasing the total MME used; however, the total number of opioids prescribed is similar for pEVAR and cEVAR despite the difference in approach. Clinicians must consider alternative nonopioid based pain management strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)292-298
Number of pages7
JournalAnnals of Vascular Surgery
StatePublished - Oct 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Underutilization of Nonopioid Pain Medication in Patients Undergoing Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Repair'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this