Pattern of postoperative pain management among adult surgical patients in a low-resource setting
Elizabeth Ogboli-Nwasor,1 Sa’adatu T Sule,2 Lazarus MD Yusufu3
1Department of Anaesthesia, Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital, Zaria, Nigeria; 2Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital, Zaria, Nigeria; 3Department of Surgery, Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital, Zaria, Nigeria
Objective: Postoperative pain is one of the most common complications of surgery. The pattern of management varies between centers. The current study aimed to study the prescription pattern and the common drugs used in the management of postoperative pain in adult surgical patients at Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital (ABUTH; Zaria, Nigeria).
Methods: Following ethical approval, a prospective observational study of consecutive adult patients who had surgery at the ABUTH Zaria was performed from January to December 2005. The data were entered into a proforma and analyzed using the Minitab statistical package.
Results: One hundred and thirty-eight patients were included in the study. The age range was 17 to 80 years, with a mean age of 41 years. One hundred and thirty-two (95.7%) of the prescriptions were written solely by the surgeon or surgical resident; passive suggestions were given by the anesthetists for only six patients (4.3%). Intermittent intramuscular injections of opioids/opiates were prescribed for 126 patients (91.3%), while nine patients (6.5%) received intermittent intramuscular injections with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Oral paracetamol was prescribed for six patients (4.3%), while three patients (2.1%) received no postoperative analgesic. Moderate pain was recorded in 48 patients (34.8%), and 90 patients (65.2%) had mild pain 8 hours after their operation before subsequent doses of analgesics were given. More females (81 patients [58.7%]), than males (42 patients [29.7%]) suffered moderate to severe pain. The reported side effects were nausea (reported by 32.6% of patients), dry mouth (21.7%), vomiting (13.0%), and urinary retention (6.5%), with 32.6% of patients experiencing no side effects. The three patients who received no analgesics experienced vomiting as a side effect. Despite the high incidence of pain and other side effects, 108 patients (78.2%) still reported that the methods of postoperative pain management were satisfactory.
Conclusion: Despite recent advances and the development of more effective techniques for postoperative pain control, a high proportion of patients still experience moderate to severe postoperative pain. Intermittent intramuscular injection of analgesic medication remains the mainstay of postoperative pain management at the ABUTH Zaria. Anesthetists should be more involved in postoperative analgesia prescriptions and should include other forms of multimodal pain management in their regimens. With proper application of current knowledge and training, postoperative pain management can be improved.
Keywords: postoperative, pain management, adult surgery
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