Chronic use of prescription pain medications known as opioids is increasing in the United States. New research shows that a portion of patients undergoing several common surgical procedures may be at increased risk for chronic opioid use several months after surgery.

Researchers from Stanford University School of Medicine reviewed the records of more than 641,000 patients who underwent one of 11 common operations and were not taking opioid pain medication during the year prior to surgery.

They found that some patients were at an increased risk for chronic opioid use following surgery, with the risks ranging from about one and a half times more likely, to as high as five times more likely, depending on the procedure. Males and the elderly had a higher risk, as well as patients with a history of drug or alcohol abuse. The overall risk of chronic opioid use remained low at about 1 percent depending on the type of surgery.