Opioid Prescribing in Patients Undergoing Neck Dissections With Short Hospitalizations

Grace L. Banik, Kristen L. Kraimer, Maisie L. Shindo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Objective: To evaluate postoperative opioid prescribing in patients undergoing neck dissections with short hospitalizations. Study Design: Retrospective cohort study. Setting: Tertiary academic hospital. Methods: The study population included patients who underwent lateral neck dissections with or without an associated head and neck procedure and required hospitalization for ≤3 days from 2012 to 2019. Interventions to decrease opioid utilization, including preoperative counseling, multimodality pain management, and multidisciplinary collaboration, were implemented in September 2016. Patients were divided into 2 groups: preintervention (group 1) and postintervention (group 2). The mean quantity of opioids prescribed during hospitalization, at discharge, and in refills was calculated in morphine milligram equivalents (MME). Results: A total of 407 patients were included in the analysis: 223 patients in group 1 and 184 patients in group 2 (42.3% female, 89.4% white; average age, 55.2 years [95% CI, 53.6-56.9]). The mean opioid quantity prescribed in unilateral neck dissection alone decreased from 353.9 MME (95% CI, 266.7-441.2) in group 1 to 113.3 MME (95% CI, 87.8-138.7) in group 2 (P <.001; effect size, 1.0). Statistically significant decreases in mean opioid quantity prescribed were also observed in unilateral neck dissection in combination with thyroidectomy, parotidectomy, glossectomy, or tonsillectomy. The percentage of patients requiring opioid prescription refills was not statistically different between the groups. Conclusion: This study demonstrates that the quantity of opioids prescribed in patients undergoing neck dissections and associated head and neck procedures with short hospitalizations can be reduced to as low as 100 to 125 MME with preoperative counseling, multimodality pain management, and multidisciplinary collaboration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)792-798
Number of pages7
JournalOtolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery (United States)
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2021


  • endocrine surgery
  • glossectomy
  • head and neck surgery
  • multimodal analgesia
  • narcotics
  • neck dissection
  • opioids
  • pain
  • parotidectomy
  • postoperative pain
  • thyroidectomy
  • tonsillectomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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