Neuropathic Aspects of Persistent Postsurgical Pain: A French Multicenter Survey With a 6-month Prospective Follow-Up

J Pain. 2014 Jan;15(1):24.e1-24.e20. doi: 10.1016/j.jpain.2013.08.014. Epub 2013 Oct 25.


To investigate the role of peripheral neuropathy in the development of neuropathic postsurgical persistent pain (N-PSPP) after surgery, this French multicentric prospective cohort study recruited 3,112 patients prior to elective cesarean, inguinal herniorrhaphy (open mesh/laparoscopic), breast cancer surgery, cholecystectomy, saphenectomy, sternotomy, thoracotomy, or knee arthroscopy. Besides perioperative data collection, postoperative postal questionnaires built to assess the existence, intensity, and neuropathic features (with the Douleur Neuropathique 4 Questions [DN4]) of pain at the site of surgery were sent at the third and sixth months after surgery. In the 2,397 patients who completed follow-up, the cumulative risk of N-PSPP within the 6 months ranged from 3.2% (laparoscopic herniorrhaphy) to 37.1% (breast cancer surgery). Pain intensity was greater if DN4 was positive and decreased with time since surgery; it depended on the type of surgery. In pain-reporting patients, the response to the DN4 changed from time to time in about 1:4 of the cases. Older age and a low anxiety score were independent protective factors of N-PSPP, whereas a recent negative event, a low preoperative quality of life, and previous history of peripheral neuropathy were risk factors. The type of anesthesia had no influence on the occurrence of N-PSPP.

Trial registration:, NCT00812734.

Perspective: This prospective observational study provides the incidence rate of N-PSPP occurring within the 6 months after 9 types of elective surgical procedures. It highlights the possible consequences of nerve aggression during some common surgeries. Finally, some preoperative predispositions to the development of N-PSPP have been identified.

Keywords: Chronic pain; DN4; complications; nerve lesion; postoperative.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Observation
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Pain Measurement
  • Pain, Postoperative / complications*
  • Pain, Postoperative / epidemiology*
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / etiology*
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Young Adult

Associated data