Alcohol-associated liver disease predicts increased post-liver transplant opioid use.
BACKGROUND: Alcohol-associated liver disease (ALD) is a rising indication for liver transplantation (LT). Prolonged opioid use after LT leads to increased graft loss and mortality. The aim is to determine if patients transplanted with a primary diagnosis of ALD had higher risk of post-LT opioid use (p-LTOU) compared to non-ALD patients.
METHODS: This is a retrospective study of patients who underwent LT between 2015 and 2018 at Medstar Georgetown Transplant Institute. Patients with prolonged hospitalization post-LT (>90 days), death within 90 days post-LT, and re-transplants were excluded.
RESULTS: Two hundred and ninety-seven patients were transplanted, among 29% for indications of ALD. ALD patients were younger (52 vs. 56 years), more likely to be male (76% vs. 61%), Caucasian (71% vs. 44%), have higher MELD (28.8+/-8.8 vs. 25+/-8.8), and psychiatric disease than non-ALD patients (P < .05). There was no difference in pre-LT use of opioids, tobacco, marijuana, or illicit drugs between ALD and non-ALD patients. Pre-LT opioid use (OR = 11.7, P < .001), ALD (OR = 2.5, P = .01), and MELD score (OR = .95, P = .02) independently predicted 90-day p-LTOU.
CONCLUSIONS: ALD, pre-LT opioid use, and MELD score independently predict p-LTOU. Special attention should be paid to identify post-LT prolonged opioid use in ALD patients.
Comments made by Cale Kassel M.D., FASA
In this retrospective study, the Johnson-Laghi et al reviewed patients undergoing liver transplantation focusing on patients with known alcoholic liver disease and previous opioid use prior to transplantation. As has been described, the use of pre-operative opioids is associated with worse outcomes in other surgical procedures. The authors sought to identify if post-LT opioid use (p-LTOU) was greater in patients with alcoholic liver disease (ALD) compared to those without alcoholic liver disease.
Patient demographic data included diagnosis of psychiatric disease, use of psychiatric medications, use of illicit drugs, use of benzodiazepines, use of marijuana, prior alcoholic rehabilitation, and legal encounters related to alcohol (DUI). Use of pre-operative opioids included use both scheduled and as needed within the three months prior to transplantation. The total dose was converted to morphine equivalents for comparison.
Overall, opioid use post-LT was more common with patients with ALD compared to those without at 30, 60, and 90 days. At 90 days, 44% of ALD patients were taking opioids compared to 27% of non-ALD patients (p = 0.004). Multi-variate logistic regression demonstrated pre-LT opioid use, primary diagnosis of ALD, and lower MELD predicted 90-day post-LT opioid use.
Further analysis showed specific risk factors for p-LTOU at 60 days to include living alone. As the authors noted, this shows the importance of good social support for patients evaluated for LT. This was not a significant variable at 90 days however.
As the authors noted, more research is needed on this topic to further identify risk factors for opioid use following LT. Additionally, this is an area for anesthesiologist involved in the listing process to add value. Opioid tapering prior to LT may provide benefit for patients. Identifying patients with any patient who take opioids, can allow for early intervention including opioid tapering.