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Risk Factors for Opioid Utilization in Patients with Intracerebral Hemorrhage



Headache is a common presenting symptom of intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH) and often necessitates treatment with opioid medications. However, opioid prescribing patterns in patients with ICH are not well described. We aimed to characterize the prevalence and risk factors for short and longer-term opioid use in patients with ICH.


We conducted a retrospective cohort study using data from a single-center registry of patients with nontraumatic ICH. This registry included data on demographics, ICH-related characteristics, and premorbid, inpatient, and postdischarge medications. After excluding patients who died or received end-of-life care, we used multivariable regression models adjusted for premorbid opioid use to determine demographic and ICH-related risk factors for inpatient and postdischarge opioid use.


Of 468 patients with ICH in our cohort, 15% (n = 70) had premorbid opioid use, 53% (n = 248) received opioids during hospitalization, and 12% (n = 53) were prescribed opioids at discharge. The most commonly used opioids during hospitalization were fentanyl (38%), oxycodone (30%), morphine (26%), and hydromorphone (7%). Patients who received opioids during hospitalization were younger (univariate: median [interquartile range] 64 [53.5–74] vs. 76 [67–83] years, p < 0.001; multivariable: odds ratio [OR] 0.96 per year, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.94–0.98) and had larger ICH volumes (univariate: median [interquartile range] 10.1 [2.1–28.6] vs. 2.7 [0.8–9.9] cm3, p < 0.001; multivariable: OR 1.05 per cm3, 95% CI 1.03–1.08) than those who did not receive opioids. All patients who had external ventricular drain placement and craniotomy/craniectomy received inpatient opioids. Additional risk factors for increased inpatient opioid use included infratentorial ICH location (OR 4.8, 95% CI 2.3–10.0), presence of intraventricular hemorrhage (OR 3.9, 95% CI 2.2–7.0), underlying vascular lesions (OR 3.0, 95% CI 1.1–8.1), and other secondary ICH etiologies (OR 7.5, 95% CI 1.7–32.8). Vascular lesions (OR 4.0, 95% CI 1.3–12.5), malignancy (OR 5.0, 95% CI 1.5–16.4), vasculopathy (OR 10.0, 95% CI 1.8–54.2), and other secondary etiologies (OR 7.2, 95% CI 1.8–29.9) were also risk factors for increased opioid prescriptions at discharge. Among patients who received opioid prescriptions at discharge, 43% (23 of 53) continued to refill their prescriptions at 3 months post discharge.


Inpatient opioid use in patients with ICH is common, with some risk factors that may be mechanistically connected to primary headache pathophysiology. However, the lower frequency of opioid prescriptions at discharge suggests that inpatient opioid use does not necessarily lead to a high rate of long-term opioid dependence in patients with ICH.

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Authors and Affiliations



Mr. Lin and Dr. Reznik conceived and designed the study, acquired, analyzed, and interpreted data, and drafted and revised the article for intellectual content. Drs. Mandel and Mac Grory, Mr. Chuck, Ms. Kalagara, Ms. Doelfel, Ms. Zhou, and Mr. Dandapani acquired/interpreted data and revised the article for intellectual content. Drs. Mahmoud, Stretz, Wendell, Thompson, Furie, and Mahta critically revised the article for intellectual content. All authors approval of the final version to be submitted.

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Correspondence to Michael E. Reznik.

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Ethical guidelines were adhered to for this retrospective study, with details on institutional review board approval in the article.

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Lin, N., Mandel, D., Chuck, C.C. et al. Risk Factors for Opioid Utilization in Patients with Intracerebral Hemorrhage. Neurocrit Care 36, 964–973 (2022).

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  • Stroke (intracerebral hemorrhage)
  • Risk factors
  • Opioid analgesics