Opioid Prescribing Patterns, Patient Use, and Postoperative Pain After Hysterectomy for Benign Indications

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To quantify physician prescribing patterns and patient opioid use in the 2 weeks after hysterectomy at an academic institution and to determine whether patient factors predict postsurgical opioid use and pain recovery.


We conducted a prospective quality initiative study by recruiting all English-speaking patients undergoing hysterectomy for benign, nonobstetric indications at a university hospital between August 2015 and December 2015, excluding those with major medical morbidities or substance abuse. Before hysterectomy, patients completed the Fibromyalgia Survey, a validated measure of centralized pain. After hysterectomy, opioid use (converted to oral morphine equivalents) and pain scores (0–10 numeric rating scale) were collected by a daily diary and a structured telephone interview 14 days after surgery. Primary outcomes were total opioid prescribed and consumed in the 2 weeks after hysterectomy. Secondary outcomes included daily opioid use and daily pain severity for 14 days after hysterectomy.


Of 103 eligible patients, 102 (99%) agreed to participate, including 44 (43.1%) laparoscopic, 42 (41.2%) vaginal, and 16 (15.7%) abdominal hysterectomies. Telephone surveys were completed on 89 (87%) participants; diaries were returned from 60 (59%) participants. Diary nonresponders had different baseline characteristics than nonresponders. Median amount of opioid prescribed was 200 oral morphine equivalents (interquartile range 150–250). Patients reported using approximately half of the opioids prescribed with a median excess of 110 morphine equivalents (interquartile range 40–150). The best fit model of total opioid consumption identified preoperative Fibromyalgia Survey Score, overall body pain, preoperative opioid use, prior endometriosis, abdominal hysterectomy (compared with laparoscopic), and uterine weight as significant predictors. Highest tertile of Fibromyalgia Survey Score was associated with greater daily opioid consumption (13.9 [95% CI 3.0–24.8] greater oral morphine equivalents at baseline, P=.02).


Gynecologists at a large academic medical center prescribe twice the amount of opioids than the average patient uses after hysterectomy. A personalized approach to prescribing opioids for postoperative pain should be considered.

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