Postoperative Opioid Prescribing and Consumption after Hysterectomy: A Prospective Cohort Study

Kelli M. McEntee, Kaitlin D. Crawford, Machelle D. Wilson, Matthew D. Ponzini, Brenda T. Wu, Bahareh M. Nejad, L. Elaine Waetjen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Study Objective: To examine opioid prescribing and consumption patterns after hysterectomy and identify factors associated with postoperative opioid consumption. Design: Prospective cohort study. Setting: Single university medical center. Patients: Women undergoing hysterectomy for benign, nonobstetric indications. Interventions: Participant preoperative and surgical characteristics were obtained through chart review and patient report of baseline pain score. During the third postoperative week, participants completed a telephone interview, including a direct count of remaining opioid pills and assessment of satisfaction with pain management. We assessed factors associated with opioid consumption in oral morphine equivalents (OME) using a linear regression model. Measurements and Main Results: Of the 129 participants, 113 (88%) completed the postoperative survey after hysterectomy: 16 vaginal, 43 robotic-assisted, 42 conventional laparoscopic, and 12 abdominal hysterectomies. The median amount of opioid prescribed was 150 OME (interquartile range [IQR] 113–200), while the median amount consumed was 75 (IQR 10–135), reflecting an average consumption of about 50% of the prescription. Opioid prescription size was associated with consumption; for every additional oral morphine equivalent prescribed, on average, an additional 0.5 was consumed (p <.001). If the indication for hysterectomy was related to pain, participants consumed 25.3 additional OME (p = .04). The amount of opioid prescribed was inversely correlated with pain management satisfaction; every additional point on a 1 through 5 Likert scale of increasing satisfaction was associated with 44 fewer OME prescribed (standard error 9 OME, p <.001). For the 1464 total unused pills among the 104 participants with leftover opioids, only 20% reported an Food and Drug Administration -compliant opioid disposal plan. Conclusion: Gynecologic surgeons can respond to the opioid epidemic by reducing excess opioid pills after hysterectomy by providing both the smallest effective prescription size and concrete resources for safe opioid disposal. These actions may contribute to a reduction in opioid use disorder cases or overdose deaths.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Minimally Invasive Gynecology
StateAccepted/In press - 2020


  • Gynecologic surgery
  • Opioid epidemic
  • Opioid use
  • Postoperative pain
  • Public health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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