Preoperative pain sensitivity and its correlation with postoperative pain and analgesic consumption: a qualitative systematic review

Anesthesiology. 2011 Feb;114(2):445-57. doi: 10.1097/ALN.0b013e3181f85ed2.


Pain perception to minor physical stimuli has been hypothesized to be related to subsequent pain ratings after surgery. The objective of this systematic review was to evaluate the correlation between preoperative pain sensitivity and postoperative pain intensity. After a literature search of MEDLINE, EMBASE, and meeting abstracts, we identified 15 studies (n = 948 patients) with univariate and/or multivariate analysis on the topic. In these studies, three types of pain stimuli were applied: thermal, pressure, and electrical pain. The intensity of suprathreshold heat pain (i.e., pain beyond patient threshold) was most consistently shown to correlate with postoperative pain. The most common limitation of the included studies was the method of statistical analysis and lack of multivariate analysis. More research is required to establish the correlation of other pain sensitivity variables with postoperative pain outcomes.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics / therapeutic use*
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Hot Temperature
  • Humans
  • Pain Measurement
  • Pain Perception*
  • Pain Threshold*
  • Pain, Postoperative / drug therapy*
  • Preoperative Period*
  • Pressure
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic


  • Analgesics