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Post-thoracotomy pain syndrome and sensory disturbances following thoracotomy at 6- and 12-month follow-ups

Authors Hetmann F, Kongsgaard UE, Sandvik L, Schou-Bredal I

Received 4 November 2016

Accepted for publication 23 December 2016

Published 21 March 2017 Volume 2017:10 Pages 663—668


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 4

Editor who approved publication: Dr Michael Schatman

Fredrik Hetmann,1 Ulf E Kongsgaard,2,3 Leiv Sandvik,4 Inger Schou-Bredal3,5

1Department of Nursing and Health Promotion, Faculty of Health Sciences, Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences, 2Division of Emergencies and Critical Care, Department of Anaesthesiology, Oslo University Hospital, 3Medical Faculty, University of Oslo, 4Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, Division of Oslo Hospital Services, 5Department of Breast and Endocrine Surgery, Division of Cancer and Surgery, Oslo University Hospital, Oslo, Norway

Persistent pain affects a large proportion of patients after thoracotomy and is associated with sensory disturbances. The objective of this prospective study was to investigate the time course of pain and sensory disturbances over a 12-month period.
Methods: Patients scheduled for thoracotomy were recruited. Data were collected on the day before surgery, including baseline characteristics and the presence of any preoperative pain. At 6- and 12-month follow-ups, data on pain were collected using the Brief Pain Inventory-Short Form, and perceived sensory disturbances around the thoracotomy scar were recorded from a self-exploration test.
Results: At 12 months after surgery, 97 patients had complete data including baseline and 6- and 12-month measurements. Almost half of the patients reported post-thoracotomy pain at the follow-ups. However, 20% of the patients not reporting post-thoracotomy pain at 6 months did report it at 12 months. Between 40% and 60% of patients experienced some kind of sensory disturbance at 6 months. A small decline in some kind of sensory disturbance was reported by 20%–50% of patients at 12 months.
A proportion of patients experienced either resolved or delayed onset of pain. Sensory changes were strongly associated with post-thoracotomy pain syndrome, but were also present in a large proportion of patients without it.

Keywords: pain, post-thoracotomy pain syndrome, chronic pain, thoracic surgery, sensory disturbance, delayed pain

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