Original article| Volume 46, ISSUE 9, P1700-1705, September 2011

Acute to chronic postoperative pain in children: preliminary findings

  • Michelle A. Fortier
    Corresponding author. CHOC Children's Hospital, Orange, CA 92868, USA. Tel.: +1 714 480 0067; fax: +1 714 480 0733.
    Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Care, University of California-Irvine, Orange, CA 92868, USA

    Department of Pediatric Psychology, CHOC Children's Hospital, Orange, CA 92868, USA
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  • Jody Chou
    Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Care, University of California-Irvine, Orange, CA 92868, USA
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  • Eva L. Maurer
    Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Care, University of California-Irvine, Orange, CA 92868, USA
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  • Zeev N. Kain
    Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Care, University of California-Irvine, Orange, CA 92868, USA

    Departments of Pediatrics and Psychiatry and Human Behavior, University of California-Irvine, Orange, CA 92868, USA

    Department of Pediatrics, CHOC Children's Hospital, Orange, CA 92868, USA
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      Chronic postoperative pain is a well-established clinical phenomenon that is associated with adverse outcomes. The incidence of this clinical phenomenon in children, however, is not well established. The purpose of this study was to identify the incidence of chronic pain in children after surgery.


      Following a screening process, a total of 113 children and their parents were enrolled in this cross-sectional study. Data regarding persistence and characteristics of pain after surgery were obtained.


      Approximately 13% of the children, most of whom underwent orthopedic procedures, reported the existence of symptoms of chronic postoperative pain. Most of the children indicated that the pain started immediately after surgery, was localized to the surgery site, and was intermittent. Children reported a median duration of pain of 4.1 months, and approximately half of the children experienced pain most days of the week. Up to 30% of the children reported interference of pain in functioning in areas such as extracurricular activities and sleep.


      Given the large number of children at risk for experiencing chronic postoperative pain, preventative efforts are necessary. Large-scale cohort prospective studies are needed to confirm the results of this cross-sectional study.

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