Opioid Use Disorders: Perioperative Management of a Special Population

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Abstract

Opioid-related overdose deaths have reached epidemic levels within the last decade. The efforts to prevent, identify, and treat opioid use disorders (OUDs) mostly focus on the outpatient setting. Despite their frequent overrepresentation, less is known about the inpatient management of patients with OUDs. Specifically, the perioperative phase is a very vulnerable time for patients with OUDs, and little has been studied on the optimal management of acute pain in these patients. The preoperative evaluation should aim to identify those with OUDs and assess factors that may interfere with OUD treatment and pain management. Efforts should be made to provide education and assistance to patients and their support systems. For those who are actively struggling with opioid use, the perioperative phase can be an opportunity for engagement and to initiate treatment. Buprenorphine, methadone, and naltrexone medication treatment for OUD and opioid tolerance complicate perioperative pain management. A multidisciplinary team approach is crucial to provide clinically balanced pain relief without jeopardizing the patient’s recovery. This article reviews the existing literature on the perioperative management of patients with OUDs and provides clinical suggestions for the optimal care of this patient population.

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