Hospitals Lack Perioperative Pain Management in Pediatric Surgery

A recently published study in the Journal of Pediatric Surgery suggests that physicians should focus on perioperative care for pediatric patients, as some children exiting surgery may report chronic pain lasting for weeks or months.

In a press release about the study,Zeev N. Kain, MD, a study co-author and chair of anesthesiology and perioperative care at the University of California, Irvine, noted that this type of chronic pain is documented and treated in adults, but is generally overlooked in pediatric patients. Of 113 children undergoing orthopedic-related procedures at the Children’s Hospital in Orange, Calif., 13% reported chronic postoperative pain, according to the study.

The children reported that pain started immediately after surgery, was localized to the surgery site and was intermittent. On average, the pain lasted 4.1 months and was severe enough to affect the children’s extracurricular activities and sleep schedules, the study authors wrote.

Kain noted that the first 48 hours of surgery are integral to minimizing pain after surgery; in adults, pain management in this time frame has shown to reduce chronic pain. He also noted that parents should be prepared to manage their children’s pain at home.

“Medical professionals must understand this issue better and learn how to work with parents to care for chronic pain,” Kain stated in the release. “We hope this study marks a first step toward long-term, definitive solutions.”


· Fortier MA, Chou J, Maurer EL, et al. Acute to chronic postoperative pain in children: Preliminary findings. J Pediatr Surg. 2011; 46:9; 1700-1705. doi:10.1016/j.jpedsurg.2011.03.074.

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