Clinical Study|Articles in Press

Pre-Operative Pain Sensitivity Predicts Post-Operative Pain Severity and Analgesics Requirement in Lumbar Fusion Surgery- A Prospective Observational Study


      Background content

      The goal of postoperative pain management is to facilitate the patient's return to normal activity and decrease the detrimental effects of acute postsurgical pain. In order to provide more tailored and successful pain treatment, it is necessary to identify individuals who are at a high risk of experiencing severe postoperative pain. The most precise way to assess pain sensitivity is by determining the pressure pain threshold and heat pain threshold by objective methods using a digital algometer and neurotouch respectively.


      The primary aim of the study is to assess the preoperative pain threshold and its influence on postoperative pain severity and analgesics requirements in patients undergoing lumbar fusion surgeries

      Study Design

      Prospective, observational study

      Patient sample

      60 patients requiring a single-level lumbar fusion surgery

      Outcome measures

      Postoperative pain intensity and the amount of postoperative analgesics consumption.


      In our patients, preoperative pain sensitivity was assessed by pressure pain threshold measurements with the help of a digital algometer, and heat pain threshold using a neurotouch instrument. In addition, pain sensitivity questionnaires (PSQ) were used in all our patients to determine pain sensitivity. Preoperative psychosocial and functional assessments were performed by Hospital anxiety-depression scores (HADS), and Oswestry disability index (ODI) respectively. Preoperative visual analog scale (VAS) score was determined at three instances of needle prick (phlebotomy, glucometer blood sugar, intradermal antibiotic test dose) and during the range of movements of the lumbar spine region. Postoperative VAS score and postoperative breakthrough analgesic requirements were recorded in all of these patients from day 0 to day 3.


      The average age of the patients was 51.11 ± 13.467 years and 70% were females. Females had lower mean algometry values (72.14±7.56) compared to males (77.34±6.33). Patients with higher HADS (p<0.0016), higher PSQ (p<0.001), higher ODI scores(p<0.001), and female gender significantly correlated with a lower algometer average indicating high pain sensitivity. Patients with lower preoperative VAS scores and with higher neurotouch scores showed lower postoperative VAS scores at different time periods. Preoperative VAS scores, algometer average scores, neurotouch scores, and HADS scores were considered as independent variables (predictors) for post-operative VAS at 6 hr period. By the multivariate analysis, factors like preoperative VAS scores, algometer average scores, and HADS scores were statistically significant (P<0.05). There was a significant correlation between algometer average scores (p<0.001) with the breakthrough analgesics.


      Preoperative assessment of pain sensitivity can predict postoperative analgesic requirements and aid in recovery. Patients with a lower pain threshold should be counseled preoperatively and also receive a better titration of analgesics perioperatively.


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