New Study from the Orthopaedic Institute for Children May Lead to Reduced Use of Opioids by Adolescents

New Study from the Orthopaedic Institute for Children May Lead to Reduced Use of Opioids by Adolescents

LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The overuse of opioids has become a national crisis, particularly among adolescents who are considered “at risk” for opioid abuse once the medication has been prescribed to them for pain management. Now, a new study conducted by the Orthopaedic Institute for Children (OIC) may help to reduce that risk to adolescent patients following anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction (ACLR) surgery.

“As an increasing number of children participate in organized sports, there has been a parallel rise in the number of ACLR surgeries,” said Jennifer Beck, M.D., associate director of OIC’s Center for Sports Medicine. “Injured and postoperative adolescent athletes often require pain medications stronger than over-the-counter products, and that has led to the nearly doubled rate of opioid prescribing to adolescents between 1994 and 2007. The problem is most postoperative opioid tablets often go unused, remain openly available, and are improperly disposed.”

The OIC study focused on quantifying the number of opioid pills self-administered by patients following outpatient ACLR surgery and looked for potential opportunities to reduce their use and reliance. The result was the first prospective study to report a difference in the number of pills consumed based on autograft type – tissues transplanted from one part of the body to another in the same individual.

Of the 49 patients studied over a six-week period, there was a significant difference in the median number of pills taken postoperatively for a hamstring autograft (19) versus bone-patella tendon-bone autograft (29), while no correlation was found between pain reported and total number of pills taken. In fact, 95.7 percent of patients who responded to the satisfaction survey were either “very satisfied” or “satisfied” with their pain control in the postoperative period.

“These findings suggest that perhaps the number of pills prescribed following ACLR surgery could safely be modified by autograft type to avoid the risk of over prescription,” said Dr. Beck. “The data in the study can help contribute to education for patients and families regarding postoperative pain management and expectations, standardization of opioid protocols after outpatient adolescent ACLR, and potentially help set a numeric value on acceptable prescription size after these surgeries.”

Dr. Beck and her colleagues will be presenting these findings at the Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America’s annual meeting May 9-12 in Austin, Texas. Presenting with Dr. Beck will be colleagues Kelly Cline, M.D.; Sophia Sangiorgio, Ph.D.; Rebecka Serpa; Kendall Shifett, B.S.; and Richard Bowen, M.D.

OIC’s Center for Sports Medicine is a state-of-the-art facility staffed by a multidisciplinary team, including sports medicine physicians, pediatric orthopaedic surgeons, nurse practitioners, medical assistants, athletic trainers and physical therapists, all focused on helping young athletes return to their sports activities as quickly and safely as possible. The center currently treats nearly 300 children each month – an 18 percent increase in cases over the prior year.

Orthopaedic Institute for Children (OIC) was founded in 1911 as Los Angeles Orthopaedic Hospital. Focused solely on musculoskeletal conditions in children, OIC receives nearly 70,000 patient visits each year. In alliance with UCLA Health and with the support of the OIC Foundation, we advance pediatric orthopaedics worldwide through outstanding patient care, medical education and research. Our locations in downtown Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Westwood and Calexico treat the full spectrum of pediatric orthopaedic disorders and injuries. For more information, visit us at

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