Cureus. 2023 Feb 4;15(2):e34624. doi: 10.7759/cureus.34624. eCollection 2023 Feb.
Background and objective Diverticulitis occurs in 10-25% of patients with diverticulosis. Although opioids can decrease bowel motility, there is scarce data on the effect of chronic opioid use on the outcomes of diverticulitis. In this study, we aimed to explore the outcomes of diverticulitis in patients with pre-existing opioid use. Methods Data between 2008 and 2014 from the National Inpatient Sample (NIS) database was extracted using the International Classification of Diseases, 9th Revision (ICD-9) codes. Univariate and multivariate analyses were used to generate odds ratios (OR). Elixhauser Comorbidity Index (ECI) scores predicting mortality and readmission were calculated based on weighted scores from 29 different comorbidities. Scores were compared between the two groups using univariate analysis. Inclusion criteria included patients with a primary diagnosis of diverticulitis. Exclusion criteria included patients less than 18 years of age, and a diagnosis of opioid use disorder in remission. Studied outcomes included inpatient mortality, complications (including perforation, bleeding, sepsis event, ileus, abscess, obstruction, and fistula), length of hospital stay, and total costs. Results A total of 151,708 patients with diverticulitis and no active opioid use and 2,980 patients with diverticulitis and active opioid use were hospitalized in the United States from 2008 to 2014. Opioid users had a higher OR for bleeding, sepsis, obstruction, and fistula formation. Opioid users had a lower risk of developing abscesses. They had longer lengths of stay, higher total hospital charges, and higher Elixhauser readmission scores. Conclusion Hospitalized diverticulitis patients with comorbid opioid use are at an elevated risk of in-hospital mortality and sepsis. This could be attributed to complications from injection drug use predisposing opioid users to these risk factors. Outpatient providers caring for patients with diverticulosis should consider screening their patients for opioid use and try offering them medication-assisted treatment to reduce their risk of poor outcomes.