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    Researchers Identify Four Main Factors that Predict Postoperative Pain

    By Jennifer Huddleston, staff writer      

    Preoperative existing pain or chronic pain, anxiety, age and the type of surgery are the four main factors that predict acute pain following surgery, according to Canadian researchers.

    Frances Chung, M.D., staff anesthesiologist at the University of Toronto in Ontario, Canada, and her colleagues reviewed approximately 5,000 publications in what they said is the first comprehensive analysis of literature on the prediction of post-surgical pain.

    “No one has ever compiled all the medical literature on prediction of postoperative pain,” Chung said.

    From the databases of studies they reviewed, Chung and her team selected 48 studies including approximately 23,000 patients in six different surgical groups for their final review. The types of surgeries studied in the analysis included: breast, gastrointestinal, mixed, obstetrics/gynecology, orthopedic and thoracic.

    While Chung and her colleagues found that the four main factors for predicting acute pain after surgery are age, anxiety, type of surgery and existing or chronic pain before surgery, they did not find that gender played a role.

    “Older patients seem to have less surgical pain,” Chung said. “Contrary to the popular belief that women have more surgical pain, we did not find [sex] was a factor.”

    The analysis also revealed that chronic sleeping troubles, length of surgery, previous surgery and an extroverted personality were factors associated with postoperative pain.

    According to Chung, the findings of the analysis can help doctors proactively manage pain.

    “Education and reassurance of patients will help postoperative pain by relieving anxiety,” Chung said. “Anesthesiologists, surgeons and nurses also can be more proactive in treating patients who have preexisting pain and who may already be on chronic pain medications. Therefore, this study has great meaning and importance.”

    She also noted that her team’s findings refute the idea that females experience more pain after surgery than do men.

    Chung presented the findings of her team’s analysis during the International Anesthesia Research Society annual meeting in March 2009. The findings are published in Abstract S-249 of the 2009 IARS Preliminary Supplement to Anesthesia & Analgesia.

    [1] Jakubiak, David. “Analysis Sheds Light on Risks for Pain After Surgery.” Anesthesiology News, Volume 35:5. May 2009
    [2]  Ibid.
    [3]  Ibid.

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