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Papers of the Week

2021 Dec




Predictors of Opiate Utilization in the Treatment of Headache and Impact on Three-Month Outcomes Following Subarachnoid Hemorrhage.



Despite multiple investigational drugs, headache due to subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) remains inadequately controlled and requires high opiate utilization. This study investigates the factors associated with increased opiate usage for the management of headache in SAH in the first 14 days of admission, the association between opiate usage and hospital length of stay, and the incidence of opiate consumption during the outpatient follow up. This is a single-center cross-sectional study. A total of 138 patients admitted between January 1, 2017, and May 31, 2019, with a diagnosis of SAH, were identified through a neurocritical care dashboard. Outpatient electronic medical records were evaluated at three months. Statistical analysis included descriptive statistics, Mann-Whitney U test, stepwise regression, and multiple regression analysis. We found that of 138 patients, the majority (90%) were prescribed opiates during their hospitalization, and the mean daily morphine equivalent dosage was 18.74 mg. Steroid usage was associated with an increase in 14-day opiate usage (r = 0.4, p = 0.0001); however, the cerebral spinal fluid profile did not show a statistically significant correlation. Over 14 days, smokers significantly used more opiates compared to nonsmokers (353 mg vs. 184 mg, p = 0.01). In addition, peri-mesencephalic SAH required less morphine compared to aneurysmal SAH (195 mg vs. 283 mg, p = 0.004). Aneurysm clipping was associated with less opiate usage compared to aneurysm coiling (186 vs. 320, p = 0.08). Only the high Hunt and Hess scale score predicted opiate usage, and the high modified Fisher scale score, aneurysmal SAH, and more opiate usage predicted hospital length of stay. A total of 48 patients (42%) suffered from headaches during their outpatient follow-up within three months of discharge; however, only six (5%) were still on opiates. There was a significant association between the amount of opiate used in the first 14 days of admission and the rate of post-discharge headache. In summary, even though patients admitted with SAH require a large amount of opiate for headache management, this did not lead to more opiate consumption in the outpatient setting. However, patients continued to suffer from headaches at three months follow-up. This high opiate consumption is associated with increased hospital length of stay. Studies are needed to identify opiate sparing analgesics that target the pathogenesis of headaches in this patient population.