Prediction of post-operative pain by an electrical pain stimulus

IT University of Copenhagen, København, Capital Region, Denmark
Acta Anaesthesiologica Scandinavica (Impact Factor: 2.31). 05/2007; 51(5):582-6. DOI: 10.1111/j.1399-6576.2007.01271.x
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Treatment of post-operative pain is still a significant problem. Recently, interest has focused on pre-operative identification of patients who may experience severe post-operative pain in order to offer a more aggressive analgesic treatment. The nociceptive stimulation methods have included heat injury and pressure algometry. A simple method, Pain Matcher (PM), using electrical stimulation, is validated for pain assessment, but has not been evaluated as a tool for prediction of post-operative pain. Our aim was to assess the predictive value of pre-caesarean section pain threshold on intensity of post-caesarean section pain using the PM.
Thirty-nine healthy women scheduled for elective caesarean section were studied. The anaesthetic/analgesic procedures included spinal anaesthesia, paracetamol, diclofenac, controlled-release (CR) oxycodone and morphine on request. Pre-operatively, the sensory and pain thresholds were measured using the PM. Post-operatively, a midwife, blinded for pre-caesarean pain threshold assessments, assessed the pain at rest and during mobilization every 12 h for 2 days. Consumption of analgesics was also recorded.
Pre-operative pain threshold correlated significantly with post-caesarean pain score (VAS) at rest and mobilization: [Spearman's rho =-0.65 (-0.30 to -0.75), P < 0.01] and [Spearman's rho =-0.52 (-0.23 to -0.72), P < 0.01], respectively. There was no significant correlation between pre-operative PM assessment of sensory threshold and post-operative pain.
Electrical pain threshold before caesarean section seems to predict the intensity of post-operative pain. This method may be used as a screening tool to identify patients at high risk of post-operative pain.

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