Research in Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis

Prevalence of Postoperative Pain in Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis and the Association With Preoperative Pain

Bastrom, Tracey P. MA*; Marks, Michelle C. PT, MA; Yaszay, Burt MD*,‡; Newton, Peter O. MD*,†,‡; Harms Study Group

Study Design. Review of a prospective database registry of surgical patients with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS).

Objective. The purpose of this study was to examine the prevalence of postoperative pain and its impact on patient-reported postoperative outcomes using the Scoliosis Research Society (SRS)-22 outcomes questionnaire.

Summary of Background Data. Although reportedly rare, postoperative pain can be a devastating situation for the patient with AIS. Most recent studies examining outcomes in AIS surgical treatment use the SRS Pain domain score to assess pain in this population.

Methods. A prospectively enrolled multicenter database was queried. Patients with minimum 2-year follow-up and 2-year SRS scores were included. Postoperative pain after the acute phase of recovery when reported by the patient to the treating surgeon/clinical team in follow-up is recorded as a complication in the database. Patients included in this series were grouped as either reporting pain or not to the surgeon/clinical team postoperatively. Pre- and postoperative SRS scores were then compared between these 2 groups using analysis of variance (P < 0.05).

Results. Five hundred and eighty-four patients meeting the inclusion criteria were identified. Sixty-one (11%) reported pain at sometime between 2 weeks and 2 years postoperatively. Thirteen were within the 6-month postoperative period. Of the remaining 48 reporting pain between 6 and 24 months postoperatively, 41 (7% of the total cohort) had no obvious cause for their pain. More than half of these patients (26/41) were referred for further treatment (physical therapy, referral to pain specialist, further imaging). These 41 patients had significantly decreased 2-year SRS scores in the domains of Pain, Self-image, Mental health, and Total score (P < 0.05). The patients with postoperative pain were found to have significantly lower preoperative Pain domain scores (P < 0.001), indicative of greater pain preoperatively, yet there were no other domains effected preoperatively. For this group the pre- to postoperative SRS pain scores did not show significant change (P > 0.05).

Conclusion. Unexplained pain after the 6-month postoperative period occurred in 7% of the cohort. The results indicate that patients reporting pain to their surgeons/clinical team postoperatively have lower pain scores on a subjective outcome instrument thus further validating the SRS-22 outcome tool. This reported pain seems to be associated with decreases in other SRS-22 domains. Interestingly, these patients also have lower preoperative pain scores than those without postoperative pain. Study into causes of pain in AIS and whether preoperative education and expectations targeted at this population would positively impact outcomes is warranted, especially because on average patients after AIS surgery have less pain.


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Spine: 01 October 2013 – Volume 38 – Issue 21 – p 1848–1852

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