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Surgeons Need to Improve Awareness of Post-Op Pain

Surgical techniques can minimize nerve damage

FRIDAY, May 12 (HealthDay News) -- Persistent post-operative pain affects between 10 percent and 50 percent of patients after common surgical procedures such as groin hernia repair, breast and thoracic surgery, leg amputation and coronary artery bypass surgery, according to a review published in the May 13 issue of The Lancet. Surgeons can take steps to reduce the risk of persistent post-surgical pain, the authors say.

Henrik Kehlet, M.D., of the Juliane Marie Centre in Copenhagen, Denmark, and colleagues note that in 2 percent to 10 percent of patients with persistent pain, the pain is chronic and severe. The most common cause of long-term post-surgical pain is iatrogenic neuropathic pain, and wherever possible surgical techniques that avoid nerve damage should be used, the authors write.

There is also a correlation between the intensity of acute pain and the risk of developing persistent pain, and therefore the effect of early therapy for post-operative pain should be investigated. The role of genetic factors also requires further investigation, the review states, because not all patients with intraoperative nerve damage develop chronic pain.

"Based on information about the molecular mechanisms that affect changes to the peripheral and central nervous system in neuropathic pain, several opportunities exist for multimodal pharmacological intervention," the authors write.

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