Opioid Prescription and Usage in Adolescents Undergoing Orthopaedic Surgery in the United States: A Systematic Review

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The proper use of opioid analgesia for postoperative pain management is controversial. While opioids are considered the standard of care for multimodal postoperative pain modulation in the United States, there is a lack of established protocols for prescribing opioids in adolescents undergoing outpatient orthopaedic surgery. The objective of this review was to identify and report on current literature on opioid prescription for pain management in adolescents undergoing all procedures, as well as in adults undergoing outpatient orthopaedic surgery.


A comprehensive literature search using PRISMA guidelines was performed to identify all articles relevant to opioid use in adolescents for postoperative pain and in adults following outpatient orthopaedic procedures.


A total of 4,446 results were identified from databases and relevant journal web sites. Of these, 9 articles were selected that fit the criteria for review. Five studies discussed the dosage and type of opioids prescribed in adolescent populations, and 4 quantified patient self-administration in adult populations.


Adolescent opioid pain management following outpatient orthopaedic surgery is not documented. Current recommendations for opioid prescription in adolescents lack support and are primarily based on adult dosages. Adult studies suggest that opioid medications may be overprescribed following outpatient orthopaedic surgery. These results clearly indicate that there is a pressing need for quantitative research on pain management following outpatient orthopaedic surgery in the adolescent population in the United States.

Clinical Relevance:

There appear to be no studies on self-administered opioid pain medication following orthopaedic surgery in an adolescent population, suggesting that there is no objective basis for the current prescription recommendations.

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