Short- and long-term opioid use in survivors of subarachnoid hemorrhage.

Journal Article (Journal Article)


Opioids are frequently used for analgesia in patients with acute subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) due to a high prevalence of headache and neck pain. However, it is unclear if this practice may pose a risk for opioid dependence, as long-term opioid use in this population remains unknown. We sought to determine the prevalence of opioid use in SAH survivors, and to identify potential risk factors for opioid utilization.


We analyzed a cohort of consecutive patients admitted with non-traumatic and suspected aneurysmal SAH to an academic referral center. We included patients who survived hospitalization and excluded those who were not opioid-naïve. Potential risk factors for opioid prescription at discharge, 3 and 12 months post-discharge were assessed.


Of 240 SAH patients who met our inclusion criteria (mean age 58.4 years [SD 14.8], 58% women), 233 (97%) received opioids during hospitalization and 152 (63%) received opioid prescription at discharge. Twenty-eight patients (12%) still continued to use opioids at 3 months post-discharge, and 13 patients (6%) at 12-month follow up. Although patients with poor Hunt and Hess grades (odds ratio 0.19, 95% CI 0.06-0.57) and those with intraventricular hemorrhage (odds ratio 0.38, 95% CI 0.18-0.87) were less likely to receive opioid prescriptions at discharge, we did not find significant differences between patients who had long-term opioid use and those who did not.


Opioids are regularly used in both the acute SAH setting and immediately after discharge. A considerable number of patients also continue to use opioids in the long-term. Opioid-sparing pain control strategies should be explored in the future.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Mahta, A; Anderson, MN; Azher, AI; Mahmoud, LN; Dakay, K; Abdulrazeq, H; Abud, A; Moody, S; Reznik, ME; Yaghi, S; Thompson, BB; Wendell, LC; Rao, SS; Potter, NS; Cutting, S; Mac Grory, B; Stretz, C; Doberstein, CE; Furie, KL

Published Date

  • August 2021

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 207 /

Start / End Page

  • 106770 -

PubMed ID

  • 34182238

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1872-6968

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0303-8467

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.clineuro.2021.106770


  • eng