Primer of postoperative pruritus for anesthesiologists

Anesthesiology. 2005 Jul;103(1):168-78. doi: 10.1097/00000542-200507000-00025.


Postoperative itching is an important problem in the postoperative care unit. Pruritus after surgery may be drug induced (including intrathecal opioids) or secondary to a preexisting systemic disease. Mechanisms of itching are complex and not completely understood. The purpose of this review is to highlight new discoveries in pathways and mechanisms of pruritus and to summarize up-to-date knowledge about treatment of itching after surgery. More basic and clinical studies are needed to address the effects of drugs on specific receptors and improve the treatment of postoperative pruritus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anesthesia / adverse effects*
  • Anesthesiology / methods
  • Humans
  • Postoperative Complications / chemically induced*
  • Postoperative Complications / prevention & control
  • Postoperative Complications / therapy
  • Pruritus / chemically induced*
  • Pruritus / prevention & control
  • Pruritus / therapy