Most patients who undergo surgical procedures experience acute postoperative pain, but evidence suggests that less than half report adequate postoperative pain relief. Many preoperative, intraoperative, and postoperative interventions and management strategies are available for reducing and managing postoperative pain. The American Pain Society, with input from the American Society of Anesthesiologists, commissioned an interdisciplinary expert panel to develop a clinical practice guideline to promote evidence-based, effective, and safer postoperative pain management in children and adults. The guideline was subsequently approved by the American Society for Regional Anesthesia. As part of the guideline development process, a systematic review was commissioned on various aspects related to various interventions and management strategies for postoperative pain. After a review of the evidence, the expert panel formulated recommendations that addressed various aspects of postoperative pain management, including preoperative education, perioperative pain management planning, use of different pharmacological and nonpharmacological modalities, organizational policies, and transition to outpatient care. The recommendations are based on the underlying premise that optimal management begins in the preoperative period with an assessment of the patient and development of a plan of care tailored to the individual and the surgical procedure involved. The panel found that evidence supports the use of multimodal regimens in many situations, although the exact components of effective multimodal care will vary depending on the patient, setting, and surgical procedure. Although these guidelines are based on a systematic review of the evidence on management of postoperative pain, the panel identified numerous research gaps. Of 32 recommendations, 4 were assessed as being supported by high-quality evidence, and 11 (in the areas of patient education and perioperative planning, patient assessment, organizational structures and policies, and transitioning to outpatient care) were made on the basis of low-quality evidence.
Perspective: This guideline, on the basis of a systematic review of the evidence on postoperative pain management, provides recommendations developed by a multidisciplinary expert panel. Safe and effective postoperative pain management should be on the basis of a plan of care tailored to the individual and the surgical procedure involved, and multimodal regimens are recommended in many situations.
Keywords: Postoperative pain management; analgesia; clinical practice guidelines; education; multimodal therapy; neuraxial analgesia; patient assessment; regional analgesia.
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