Liver transplant patients who use high level of opioid pain medications were found to have an elevated death and organ loss rates in the first five years after transplantation.
The analysis was carried on nearly 30,000 patients who were undergoing liver transplantation in the United States from 2008-2014. These recipients who had a highest use of opioid pain medications were found to have an increased death and organ loss rate in the first five years.
‘The use of an increased level of opioid pain medications may affect survival of liver transplant recipients.’
The findings found the risk rate to be higher after a year in transplant recipients. This may reflect opioid use. Around 65% of patients who had high level of opioid use had continued moderate to high level use in the first year after transplantation.
Therefore, transplant candidates who require a high level of opioid use must be carefully assessed and monitored before and after transplantation.
Dr. Krista Lentine, senior author of the Liver Transplantation study, said, "Concerns for an epidemic of complications related to use of prescription opioids has not spared the population with end-stage liver disease."
"Risks of opioid-related toxicities may be even greater in patients with organ failure, due to altered drug metabolism and excretion. More work is needed to identify underlying mechanisms of mortality, determine the impact of decreasing opioid use before transplant, and design pain management strategies that improve patient outcomes."