Amy S. You a , Kamyar Kalantar-Zadeh a , b , Elani Streja a , b , Christina Park a , c , John J. Sim d , Ekamol Tantisattamo a , Jui-Ting Hsiung a , b , Yoshitsugu Obi e , Praveen K. Potukuchi e , Alpesh N. Amin f , Danh V. Nguyen g , Csaba P. Kovesdy e , h , Connie M. Rhee a , *
10 August 2020
Background: Population-based studies show there is a high prevalence of chronic kidney disease (CKD) patients suffering from chronic pain. While opiates are frequently prescribed in non-dialysis-dependent CKD (NDD-CKD) patients, there may be toxic accumulation of metabolites, particularly among those progressing to end-stage renal disease (ESRD). We examined the association of opiate versus other analgesic use during the pre-ESRD period with post-ESRD mortality among NDD-CKD patients transitioning to dialysis. Methods: We examined a national cohort of US Veterans with NDD-CKD who transitioned to dialysis over 2007–14. Among patients who received ≥1 prescription(s) in the Veterans Affairs (VA) Healthcare System within 1 year of transitioning to dialysis, we examined associations of pre-ESRD analgesic status, defined as opiate, gabapentin/pregabalin, other non-opiate analgesic, versus no analgesic use, with post-ESRD mortality using multivariable Cox models. Results: Among 57,764 patients who met eligibility criteria, pre-ESRD opiate and gabapentin/pregabalin use were each associated with higher post-ESRD mortality (ref: no analgesic use), whereas non-opiate analgesic use was not associated with higher mortality in expanded case-mix analyses: HRs (95% CIs) 1.07 (1.05–1.10), 1.07 (1.01–1.13), and 1.00 (0.94–1.06), respectively. In secondary analyses, increasing frequency of opiate prescriptions exceeding 1 opiate prescription in the 1-year pre-ESRD period was associated with incrementally higher post-ESRD mortality (ref: no analgesic use). Conclusions: In NDD-CKD patients transitioning to dialysis, pre-ESRD opiate and gabapentin/pregabalin use were associated with higher post-ESRD mortality, whereas non-opiate analgesic use was not associated with death. There was a graded association between increasing frequency of pre-ESRD opiate use and incrementally higher mortality.