Chronic post-surgical pain: 10 years on

Chronic post-surgical pain: 10 years on

Macrae, W. A. (2008). Chronic post-surgical pain: 10 years on. British Journal of Anaesthesia, 101(1), 77–86. doi:10.1093/bja/aen099

In the past ten years there has been recognition that chronic post-surgical pain is a significant problem. This is a complex area of research and although the quality of studies has improved many difficulties remain. Several recent publications have examined risk factors. Severe acute postopera- tive pain emerges as a factor that we may be able to influence. There is a need for education of the medical profession and the general public, so that effective measures are introduced and unnecessary and inappropriate operations minimized.


A review article in 2003 examined the possible mechanisms in relation to changes that occur after vasectomy. It is disappointing then to find in a recent pub- lication on sterilization the statement: ‘Whether a postvasectomy pain syndrome exists remains controversial’.

Table 1 on page 2 also shows a 5% rate of chronic pain due to a variety of surgeries. I’d like to see how common chronic pain is across a wide spectrum of surgeries. 5% is pretty high in my mind if a surgery is elective and most patients would not be aware of this.


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