evidence from breast cancer surgery, groin hernia repair, and lung cancer surgery
The prevalences of severe persistent postsurgical pain (PPP) following breast cancer surgery (BCS), groin hernia repair (GHR), and lung cancer surgery (LCS) are 13, 2, and 4-12 %, respectively. Estimates indicate that 80,000 patients each year in the U.S.A. are affected by severe pain and debilitating impairment in the aftermath of BCS, GHR, and LCS. Data across the three surgical procedures indicate a 35-65 % decrease in prevalence of PPP at 4-6 years follow-up. However, this is outweighed by late-onset PPP, which appears following a pain-free interval. The consequences of PPP include severe impairments of physical, psychological, and socioeconomic aspects of life. The pathophysiology underlying PPP consists of a continuing inflammatory response, a neuropathic component, and/or a late reinstatement of postsurgical inflammatory pain. While the sensory profiles of PPP-patients and pain-free controls are comparable with hypofunction on the surgical side, this seems to be accentuated in PPP-patients. In BCS-patients and GHR-patients, the sensory profiles indicate inflammatory and neuropathic components with contribution of central sensitization. A number of surgical factors including increased duration of surgery, repeat surgery, more invasive surgical techniques, and intraoperative nerve lesion have been associated with PPP. One of the most consistent predictive factors for PPP is high intensity acute postsurgical pain, but also psychological factors including anxiety, catastrophizing trait, depression, and psychological vulnerability have been identified as significant predictors of PPP. The quest to identify improved surgical and anesthesiological techniques to prevent severe pain and functional impairment in patients after surgery continues.
Current Topics in Behavioral Neurosciences, 2014, Vol 20, p. 3-29