Chronic postsurgical pain: still a neglected topic?
Igor Kissin, Simon Gelman
Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA
Background: Surgical injury can frequently lead to chronic pain. Despite the obvious importance of this problem, the first publications on chronic pain after surgery as a general topic appeared only a decade ago. This study tests the hypothesis that chronic postsurgical pain was, and still is, represented insufficiently.
Methods: We analyzed the presentation of this topic in journal articles covered by PubMed and in surgical textbooks. The following signs of insufficient representation in journal articles were used: (1) the lack of journal editorials on chronic pain after surgery, (2) the lack of journal articles with titles clearly indicating that they are devoted to chronic postsurgical pain, and (3) the insufficient representation of chronic postsurgical pain in the top surgical journals.
Results: It was demonstrated that insufficient representation of this topic existed in 1981–2000, especially in surgical journals and textbooks. Interest in this topic began to increase, however, mostly regarding one specific surgery: herniorrhaphy. It is important that the change in the attitude toward chronic postsurgical pain spreads to other groups of surgeries.
Conclusion: Chronic postsurgical pain is still a neglected topic, except for pain after herniorrhaphy. The change in the attitude toward chronic postsurgical pain is the important first step in the approach to this problem.
Keywords: neuropathic pain, persistent pain, chronic pain, postoperative pain
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