BACKGROUND: Postoperative pain management is key for patient satisfaction. Pressure pain threshold (PPT) has been studied in some surgical cohorts but has not been studied in relationship to acute postoperative pain in short-stay patients undergoing anorectal surgery. We hypothesized that preoperative finger PPT measurements can identify respective patients with higher postoperative pain. Aiming to understand the relationship with subjective postoperative pain perception, we tested the hypotheses that preoperative PPT is associated with postoperative Visual Analog Scale (VAS) pain scores and correlates with postoperative analgesic consumption in short-stay patients undergoing anorectal surgery.
METHODS: We prospectively assessed preoperative PPT in a cohort undergoing anorectal surgery, known as a moderately to severely painful procedure. Linear mixed-effects models were used to assess the relationship with postoperative VAS pain scores at 1 and 3 days as well as 4 weeks postoperatively. Logistic regression was used to study the relationship with additional postoperative analgesic consumption.
RESULTS: We studied 128 patients and found that preoperative PPT is significantly associated with postoperative pain (P value for interaction = .025). Logistic regression modeling additionally revealed an association between the preoperative PPT and the need for additional postoperative analgesics, with odds of requiring additional analgesia decreasing by about 10% for each 1-point increase in PPT (odds ratio [OR] = 0.90; 95% confidence interval [CI], 00.81-0.98; P = .012).
CONCLUSIONS: Preoperative finger PPT is associated with postoperative pain and might help identify patients who are at risk of developing more severe postoperative pain on anorectal surgery. Especially in ambulatory and short-stay settings, this approach can help to address patients' high variability in pain sensitivity to facilitate appropriate postoperative analgesia, timely discharge, and prevent readmission.