To identify perioperative practice patterns that predictably impact postoperative pain.
Despite significant advances in perioperative medicine, a significant portion of patients still experience severe pain after major surgery. Postoperative pain is associated with serious adverse outcomes that are costly to patients and society.
The presented analysis took advantage of a unique observational data set providing unprecedented detailed pharmacological information. The data were collected by PAIN OUT, a multinational registry project established by the European Commission to improve postoperative pain outcomes. A multivariate approach was used to derive and validate a model predictive of pain on postoperative day 1 (POD1) in 1008 patients undergoing back surgery.
The predictive and validated model was highly significant (P = 8.9E-15) and identified modifiable practice patterns. Importantly, the number of nonopioid analgesic drug classes administered during surgery predicted decreased pain on POD1. At least 2 different nonopioid analgesic drug classes (cyclooxygenase inhibitors, acetaminophen, nefopam, or metamizol) were required to provide meaningful pain relief (>30%). However, only a quarter of patients received at least 2 nonanalgesic drug classes during surgery. In addition, the use of very short-acting opioids predicted increased pain on POD1, suggesting room for improvement in the perioperative management of these patients. Although the model was highly significant, it only accounted for a relatively small fraction of the observed variance.
The presented analysis offers detailed insight into current practice patterns and reveals modifications that can be implemented in today's clinical practice. Our results also suggest that parameters other than those currently studied are relevant for postoperative pain including biological and psychological variables.