A study published online in the journal Foot & Ankle International attempts to quantify the number of opioid pills taken by opioid-naïve patients who undergo outpatient foot and ankle surgeries with regional anesthesia. 

The authors conducted a prospective, comparative study of 84 patients who underwent outpatient foot and ankle surgery with spinal blockade and long-acting popliteal blocks. Patients were given 40 or 60 narcotic pills, a 3-day supply of ibuprofen, deep vein thrombosis prophylaxis, and antiemetics. On postoperative days (PODs) 3, 7, 14, and 56, the authors surveyed patients as to whether they were still taking opioids, quantity of pills consumed, whether refills were obtained, pain level, and reason for stopping opioids. They found that patients consumed a mean 22.5 pills, with 55 percent of patients still taking opioids on POD 3 and 2.8 percent doing so on POD 56. The authors suggest that "providers consider prescribing 30 pills as the benchmark for this patient population." Learn more...

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