oa Southern African Journal of Anaesthesia and Analgesia - Acute postoperative pain in 1 231 patients at a developing country referral hospital : incidence and risk factors : research

Volume 22, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 2220-1181
  • E-ISSN: 2220-1173



Postoperative pain is poorly studied in developing countries. At a Western Cape referral hospital, it was aimed to determine the incidence of acute postoperative pain, to identify populations associated with a higher risk thereof (in order to guide resource allocation) and to investigate whether inexpensive analgesic modalities are currently utilised maximally.

Patients completed visual analogue scales 24 h after surgery for pain immediately after surgery, maximum pain since surgery and current pain. The incidence of moderate or severe pain and median pain scores were calculated for each scale and for different patient populations. Post hoc logistic regression was performed. Morphine prescriptions were compared with the actual administration thereof.
Of 1 231 patients, 62% indicated their maximum pain as moderate or severe. Procedures with the highest incidences were caesarean section and lower limb orthopaedic surgery (> 80%). Younger age, female gender, emergency surgery, and surgery to the abdomen and lower limbs were associated with higher incidences. Patients experiencing moderate or severe pain received 46% of their prescribed morphine.
In this institution, the incidence of postoperative pain is high as expected. Associations with postoperative pain are identified, which may guide resource allocation. At least one low-cost analgesic modality is currently underutilised.

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