Preventing Persistent Pain After Breast Surgery

Surgical Rounds®, January 2014,

Despite advances in treatment, persistent pain after breast surgery is still a significant clinical problem.

Despite advances in treatment, persistent pain after breast surgery is still a significant clinical problem.

Recognizing that more research describing the factors associated with persistent pain would help clinicians develop prevention and treatment strategies, 5 researchers at Helsinki University Central Hospital in Finland conducted a prospective study to examine the prevalence and severity of the condition.

While previous studies identified chronic preoperative pain, axillary lymph node dissection, radiotherapy, and adjuvant chemotherapy as factors that predict persistent pain, this research published in the January 2014 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association found 35% of the 860 patients reported no pain, 50% had mild pain, and 16% had moderate to severe pain 12 months after surgery. However, the authors did not determine which types of pain the patients experienced.

In addition to the risks described in previous studies, the authors identified preoperative pain in the operation area and preoperative depression as factors for predicting persistent postoperative pain. Nevertheless, the researchers concluded that risk assessment tools and strategies for preventing pain after breast surgery are greatly needed.