Simple Tests Predict Post-Op Pain

Anxiety, sensitivity levels identify patients needing special care, experts say

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TUESDAY, Oct. 25, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- A series of tests may help predict a patient's post-surgical pain, researchers report.

Researchers at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, in Winston-Salem, N.C., conducted interviews and tests on 34 women scheduled to have Caesarean sections.

About two weeks before their Caesareans, the women filled out questionnaires on their anxiety, expectations about pain, and levels of pain they were experiencing during pregnancy.

In another test, researchers applied a small heat element to the women's arms and backs. The women were asked to rated the intensity and unpleasantness of the heat element.

Following their Caesareans, the women reported on their pain levels and the researchers also assessed the women's need for pain medication.

The study found that six groups of predictive factors accounted for 90 percent of the total variances in the women's post-surgical pain and medication needs.

A questionnaire measuring anxiety was found to be the best predictor of the total amount of pain medication patients would require, the Wake Forest team found. Patient responses to the heating element test and blood pressure readings shortly before surgery were the best overall predictors of post-surgical pain.

The findings were presented Monday at the American Society of Anesthesiology annual meeting, in Atlanta.

Although more research is needed, "the study shows the potential to identify patients at risk for high pain levels after surgery so we can tailor treatments to improve their quality of care," lead researcher and obstetrical anesthesiologist Dr. Peter H. Pan said in a prepared statement.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about post-surgical pain treatment.

SOURCE: Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, news release, Oct. 24, 2005


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