Prediction of postoperative pain using path analysis in older patients
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- Kinjo, S., Sands, L.P., Lim, E. et al. J Anesth (2012) 26: 1. doi:10.1007/s00540-011-1249-6
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Effective postoperative pain management is important for older surgical patients because pain affects perioperative outcomes. A prospective cohort study was conducted to describe the direct and indirect effects of patient risk factors and pain treatment in explaining levels of postoperative pain in older surgical patients.
We studied patients who were 65 years of age or older and were scheduled for major noncardiac surgery with a postoperative hospital stay of at least 2 days. The numeric rating scale (0 = no pain, 10 = worst possible pain) was used to measure pain levels before surgery and once daily for 2 days after surgery. Path analysis was performed to examine the association between predictive variables and postoperative pain levels.
Three hundred fifty patients were studied. We found that preoperative pain level, use of preoperative opioids, female gender, higher ASA physical status, and postoperative pain control methods were the strongest predictors of postoperative pain as measured on the first day after surgery. Younger age, greater preoperative symptoms of depression, and lower cognitive function also contributed to higher postoperative pain levels. Pain levels on the second day after surgery were strongly predicted by preoperative pain level, use of preoperative opioids, surgical risk, and pain and opioid dose on postoperative day 1. However, younger age, female gender, higher ASA physical status, greater preoperative symptoms of depression, lower cognitive function, and postoperative pain control methods indirectly contributed to pain levels on the second day after surgery.
Although preoperative pain and use of preoperative opioids have the strongest effects on postoperative pain, clinicians should be aware that other factors such as age, gender, surgical risk, preoperative cognitive impairment, and depression also contribute to reported postoperative pain. Based on significant statistical correlations, these study results can contribute to more effective postoperative care for those patients having the risk factors studied here. Preoperative treatment/intervention based in part on factors such as preoperative pain, use of preoperative opioids, and depression may improve postoperative pain management.