AbstractBackground and aimsThoracotomies can cause severe pain, which persists in 21–67% of patients. We investigated whether NSAID + intravenous patient-controlled analgesia (IV-PCA) with morphine is an efficacious alternative to thoracic epidural analgesia (TEA). We also wanted to find out whether an extended controlled pain management protocol within a clinical study can decrease the incidence of persistent post-thoracotomy pain.MethodsThirty thoracotomy patients were randomized into 3 intervention groups with 10 patients in each. G1: preoperative diclofenac 75mg orally+150 mg/24h IV for 44h, then PO; G2: valdecoxib 40mg orally+parecoxib 80mg/24h IV for 44h, then PO. IV-PCA morphine was available in groups 1 and 2 during pleural drainage, and an intercostal nerve block at the end of surgery was performed; G3: parac-etamol+patient controlled epidural analgesia (PCEA) with a background infusion of bupivacaine with fentanyl. After PCA/PCEA oxycodone PO was provided when needed. These patients were contacted one week, 3 and 6 months after discharge. Patients (N = 111) not involved in the study were treated according to hospital practice and served as a control group. The control patients’ data from the perioperative period were extracted, and a prospective follow-up questionnaire at 6 months after surgery similar to the intervention group was mailed.ResultsThe intended sample size was not reached in the intervention group because of the global withdrawal of valdecoxib, and the study was terminated prematurely. At 6 months 3% of the intervention patients and 24%ofthe control patients reported persistent pain (p<0.01). Diclofenac and valdecoxib provided similar analgesia, and in the combined NSAID group (diclofenac+valdecoxib) movement-related pain was milder in the PCEA group compared with the NSAID group. The duration of pain after coughing was shorter in the PCEA group compared with the NSAID+IV-PCA group. The only patient with persistent painat6 months postoperatively had a considerably longer duration ofpain after coughing than the other Study patients. The patients with mechanical hyperalgesia had more pain on movement.ConclusionsBoth PCEA and NSAID+IV-PCA morphine provided sufficient analgesia with little persistent pain compared with the incidence of persistent pain in the control group. High quality acute pain management and follow-up continuing after discharge could be more important than the analgesic method per se in preventing persistent post-thoracotomy pain. In the acute phase the measurement of pain when coughing and the duration of pain after coughing could be easy measures to recognize patients having a higher risk for persistent post-thoracotomy pain.ImplicationsTo prevent persistent post-thoracotomy pain, the extended protocol for high quality pain management in hospital covering also the sub-acute phase at home, is important. This study also provides some evidence that safe and effective alternatives to thoracic epidural analgesia do exist. The idea to include the standard “as usual” care patients as a control group and to compare them with the intervention patients provides valuable information of the added value of being a study patient, and deserves further consideration in future studies.
Scandinavian Journal of Pain – de Gruyter
Published: Oct 1, 2014
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