Opioid Use Abroad

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Opioid Use Abroad

The opioid epidemic continues to be an issue of growing concern across the U.S. The WOA has had several Touches and lively forum discussions on the matter.

I recently returned from a three-week AOA traveling fellowship in Japan and part of our charge while there was to develop and perform a research project. Given the nature of this topic in America, my co-fellows and I conducted a survey of Japanese surgeons’ attitudes and practice patterns regarding opioid use and prescribing.

We asked questions such as: “Following a primary total knee arthroplasty, which of the following medications do you prescribe?” The options included NSAIDS, acetaminophen, other non-narcotics and opioids. Both dosing and duration were also assessed. We then compared the response to a survey of U.S. surgeons. Although not yet published, the preliminary data demonstrated substantially lower utilization of opioids among Japanese surgeons and patients.

A good many WOA orthopaedic practitioners feel that opioid use across the country has been too high over the last 18 years since new regulations changed practice patterns. Although the Japanese healthcare system is far from a perfect model, it was reaffirming to observe an example of patients receiving few to no narcotics after basic orthopaedic interventions and doing just fine. As demonstrated by our recent Touches discussions, I predict the WOA will continue to lead the charge in re-establishing our role as orthopaedic practitioners directing the appropriate use of opioids with our patients.

For more information on our trip (including some cool pictures of Japan), follow this link:

Conor Kleweno, MD
Harborview Medical Center
Seattle, WA
[email protected]

DISCLAIMER: Statements of fact and opinion are the responsibility of the authors alone and do not imply an opinion or endorsement on the part of the officers or the members of WOA unless such opinion or endorsement is specifically stated. Materials may be reproduced only if Touches and the Western Orthopaedic Association are credited.


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