Total knee arthroplasty (TKA) is associated with high rates of prolonged opioid use after surgery (10%–34%). By decreasing opioid use in the immediate postoperative period, perioperative nerve blockade has been hypothesized to decrease the risk of persistent opioid use.METHODS:
Using health care utilization data, we constructed a sample of 120,080 patients undergoing TKA between 2002 and 2012 and used billing data to identify the utilization of peripheral or neuraxial blockade. We then used a multivariable logistic regression to estimate the association between nerve blockade and the risk of chronic opioid use, defined as having filled ≥10 prescriptions or ≥120 days’ supply for an opioid in the first postsurgical year. Our analyses were adjusted for an extensive set of potential confounding variables, including medical comorbidities, previous opioid use, and previous use of other medications.RESULTS:
We did not find an association between nerve blockade and the risk of postsurgical chronic opioid use across any of these 3 groups: adjusted relative risk (ARR) 0.984 for patients opioid-naïve in the year before surgery (98.3% confidence interval [CI], 0.870–1.12, P = .794), ARR 1.02 for intermittent opioid users (98.3% CI, 0.948–1.09, P = .617), and ARR 0.986 (98.3% CI, 0.963–1.01, P = .257) for chronic opioid users. Similar results held for alternative measures of postsurgical opioid use.CONCLUSIONS:
Although the use of perioperative nerve blockade for TKA may improve short-term outcomes, the analyzed types of blocks do not appear to decrease the risk of persistent opioid use in the longer term.