Incidence of chronic postsurgical pain (CPSP) after general surgery

Pain Med. 2014 Jul;15(7):1222-9. doi: 10.1111/pme.12434. Epub 2014 Apr 9.


Objective: This study investigated the incidence and determinants of chronic postsurgical pain (CPSP) in a general surgical patient population.

Design: This is a prospective cross-sectional study at a university-affiliated clinic/level 1 trauma center. Patients were followed at least 1 year postoperatively. By surgical discipline, procedures were 50% orthopedic/trauma, 33% general (abdominal/visceral), and 17% vascular.

Setting: All patients admitted during one year (N = 3020) were eligible. Exclusion criteria were cognitive impairment, communication/language barrier, nonoperative treatment, and refusal to participate. A CPSP questionnaire was completed. Step-by-step analysis followed with a 2(nd) questionnaire to detect CPSP with numeric rating scale (NRS) pain intensity ≥3. Finally, individual follow-up examinations were performed.

Results: 911 patients responded (30.2%). 522 complained of pain intensity ≥3 on NRS (scale 0-10). The second step identified 214 patients with chronic pain (NRS ≥3, mean 29 months postoperatively). On final examination, 83 CPSP patients (14.8%) were identified. By surgical discipline, 28% were general, 15% vascular, and 57% trauma/orthopedic surgery. Most oftenly cited pain sites were joint (49.4%), incisional/scar (37.7%), and nerve pain (33.7%). By procedure, patients underwent pelvic surgery, colon surgery, laparoscopies, inguinal herniorrhaphies, arthroscopies, and hardware extractions. All patients in the "laborer" and "unemployed" categories reported chronic pain.

Conclusion: Bias due to study design and/or heterogeneity of patients is possible, but there was a high CPSP rate after 2 years both generally and particularly in orthopedic/trauma (57%) patients. Both "major" and "minor" surgical procedures led to CPSP.

Keywords: Chronic Post-Surgical Pain (CPSP); Pain Management; Persistent Pain; Prospective Study; Risk Factors.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Chronic Pain / epidemiology*
  • Chronic Pain / etiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain, Postoperative / epidemiology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Surveys and Questionnaires