Primary Hip & Knee Arthroplasty| Volume 35, ISSUE 9, P2392-2396, September 2020

Narcotic Consumption in Opioid-Naïve Patients Undergoing Total Hip and Knee Arthroplasty



      Total knee arthroplasty (TKA) is associated with increased risk of prolonged narcotic requirement compared to total hip arthroplasty (THA). This study aims to compare acute postoperative narcotic consumption between the 2 procedures and quantify amount of narcotics used by opioid prescribed.


      From October 2017 to August 2019, patients were surveyed at 4-week follow-up to determine amount and duration of opioids used and whether they continued to require narcotics. Among 1332 patients who self-identified as opioid naïve, 670 underwent THA and 662 underwent TKA. Descriptive analysis was performed based on data type.


      The total morphine equivalent dose (MED) used in the postoperative period was lower in THA than in TKA (143 ± 160 vs 259 ± 250 MED, P < .001). The duration of use was shorter, total amount of pills consumed was lower, and refill rates were less in THA compared to TKA regardless of which opioid was prescribed. A smaller proportion of patients required narcotics at 4-week follow-up in THA compared to TKA. A postoperative prescription of 45 pills of any one type of narcotic was sufficient for nearly 90% of THA patients, and 60 pills of any one type of narcotic was appropriate for over 75% of TKA patients.


      THA is associated with less total narcotic consumption, shorter duration of use, less refills, and lower likelihood of requiring narcotics at 4-week follow-up. Percentiles of total narcotics consumed are provided to promote judicious postoperative prescribing patterns, and one could consider further reducing narcotics when utilizing our protocol, particularly for THA patients.

      Level of Evidence

      This is a level III retrospective cohort study reviewing narcotic use in over 900 consecutive opioid-naïve patients undergoing total hip and knee arthroplasty.


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