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The prevalence of nasal obstruction as a consideration in the treatment of opioid overdose

Scott G. Weiner, MD, MPH, Andrew R. Joyce, PhD, Heather N. Thomson, MS


Objectives: The intranasal route of administration for naloxone delivery is one treatment for opioid overdose, but treatment failures with this modality have been documented. This study determines the incidence of obstructive nasal pathology in patients who experienced serious opioid-induced respiratory depression (OIRD).

Design: Retrospective analysis of the IMS LifeLink: Health Plan Claims Database to detect patients with at least one opioid pharmacy claim from 2009 to 2013 and who experienced serious OIRD. Four controls were randomly assigned to each case.

Main Outcome Measures: A multivariable analysis determined the adjusted odds ratio of OIRD for patients with obstructive nasal pathology.

Results: A total of 7,234 patients experienced a serious OIRD event; 840 (11.6 percent) had obstructive nasal pathology: 20 (2.4 percent) had deviated nasal septum (International Classification of Disease, 9th revision [ICD-9] 470), 246 (29.3 percent) had polyp of the nasal cavity (ICD-9 470.1), 130 (15.5 percent) had hypertrophy of nasal turbinates (ICD-9 478.0), and 659 (78.5 percent) had other disease of the nasal cavity (ICD-9 478.19). The adjusted odds ratio for patients who experienced serious OIRD having concurrent obstructive nasal pathology was 1.28 (95% confidence interval 1.13-1.46).

Conclusions: Obstructive nasal pathology is relatively common in patients who experience serious OIRD, and in itself is associated with a higher risk of having OIRD.


nasal pathology, naloxone, opioid, respiratory depression

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