Scoliosis surgery is one of the most extensive elective surgical processes performed on young people. Although there is a great store of knowledge of surgical techniques, patients' experiences of going through surgery have not been extensively studied.
The aim of this study is to describe how a cohort of young people and their parents retrospectively rate postoperative pain and nausea and describe their experiences of scoliosis surgery.
In a retrospective cohort study, 87 young people aged 8–25 years with scoliosis who underwent corrective surgery from 2004 to 2007 were invited to complete a questionnaire, as were their parents. The semistructured questionnaire dealt with experiences of pain, nausea, and global satisfaction pre- and posthospitalization, assessed by visual analogue scales. The free text commentaries were analyzed using qualitative content analysis.
A total of 51 patients (59%) and 65 parents (75%) answered the questionnaires. Out of the completed questionnaires, 41 had idiopathic, 23 neuromuscular, and 6 other types of scoliosis. Postoperative patient-rated pain was severe 7.3 (median, interquartile range 5–8.4, visual analogue scale 0–10 cm), and the severe pain lasted for 5 (median, 2.7–7.0) days. Nausea was rated to a median of 5 (1.1–7.3) and lasted for a median of 3 (1–5.2) days. Global satisfaction was rated to a median of 3.2 (1.5–5.2). Postoperative pain was the most prominent issue, and present pain was found in 51% of respondents. Nausea and loss of appetite were common during the entire hospital stay. Waiting for the nurses' assistance, lack of control, and technical failures with the analgesia equipment caused discomfort. Parents experienced a lack of confidence in the nurses and felt helpless to support their child or relieve the child's suffering.
Young people who underwent scoliosis surgery reported severe postoperative pain and nausea during the hospitalization period and persistent and recent onset pain after discharge, although they did not indicate global dissatisfaction with the hospital stay.