Constipation is a well-known complication of surgery that can be exacerbated by opioid analgesics. This study evaluated resource utilization and costs associated with opioid-induced constipation (OIC).
This retrospective, observational, and propensity-matched cohort study utilized the Premier Healthcare Database. The study included adults ≥18 years of age undergoing total hip or total knee replacement as inpatients who received an opioid analgesic and were discharged between January 1, 2012, and June 30, 2015. Diagnosis codes identified patients with OIC who were then matched 1:1 to patients without OIC. Generalized linear and logistic regression models were used to compare inpatient resource utilization, total hospital costs, inpatient mortality, and 30-day all-cause readmissions and emergency department visits.
Of 788,448 eligible patients, 40,891 (5.2%) had OIC. Covariates were well balanced between matched patients with and without OIC (n=40,890 each). In adjusted analyses, patients with OIC had longer hospital lengths of stay (3.6 versus 3.3 days; p<0.001), higher total hospital costs (US$17,479 versus US$16,265; p<0.001), greater risk of intensive care unit admission (odds ratio [OR]=1.12, 95% CI: 1.01-1.24), and increased likelihood of 30-day hospital read-missions (OR=1.16, 95% CI: 1.11-1.22) and emergency department visits (OR=1.38, 95% CI: 1.07-1.79) than patients without OIC. No statistically significant difference was found with inpatient mortality (OR=0.89, 95% CI: 0.59-1.35).
OIC was associated with greater resource utilization and hospital costs for patients undergoing primarily elective total hip or total knee replacement surgery. These results support OIC screening and management strategies as part of perioperative care management.