Reduced Incidence of Chronic Postsurgical Pain after Epidural Analgesia for Abdominal Surgery

Esther A. Bouman*, Maurice Theunissen, Sabrina A. Bons, Walther N. van Mook, Hans-F. Gramke, Maarten van Kleef, Marco A. Marcus

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background Chronic postsurgical pain (CPSP) is a common complication of surgery with high impact on quality of life. Peripheral and central sensitization caused by enhanced and prolonged afferent nociceptive input are considered important mechanisms for the development of CPSP. This case-control study investigated whether epidural analgesia is associated with a reduced incidence of CPSP after open abdominal surgery. MethodsSix months after surgery, Short-Form-36 Health Survey (SF-36) pain scores, possible predictors of chronic pain, and quality of life were assessed. Patients treated with epidural analgesia in combination with general anesthesia (epidural group, N=51) were compared to patients undergoing matched surgical procedures receiving general anesthesia alone (GA-group, N=50). Multivariate analysis was performed by logistic regression analysis. ResultsTwenty-six (25.7%) patients experienced chronic pain, 9 in the epidural group (17.6%), 17 in the GA-group (34%), crude odds ratio (OR) 0.42 (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.16 to 1.05). After adjustment for the most prominent predictors of CPSP, such as age, sex, pre-operative pain, and acute postoperative pain, the OR for chronic pain in the epidural group was 0.19 (95% CI 0.05 to 0.76). Patients with CPSP reported a significantly lower quality of life compared to patients without CPSP (SF-36 total score median (IQR) 39.2 (27.2 to 56.7) vs. 84.3 (69.9 to 92.5, P
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E76-E84
JournalPain Practice
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2014


  • epidural
  • chronic postsurgical pain
  • predictor

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