Perioperative analgesia for thoracotomy has evolved in concert with increasing knowledge of the impact of pain on recovery, the origin of this pain, and new methods for treating it. Thoracic surgery is one of the few areas where there is more general agreement between surgeons and anesthesiologists as to the importance of aggressive pain management, often with an indwelling epidural catheter left in place until after thoracostomy tube removal. The reasons for this agreement is that it has become increasingly clear to both specialties that pain puts patients with decreased pulmonary reserve who undergo thoracotomy at greater risk for morbidity. Future studies need to examine drugs or drug combinations that can lead to further reductions in the often intense pain that patients receiving aggressive epidural analgesia still experience. Studies directed at finding interventions capable of reducing the rate of long-term postthoracotomy pain still need to be performed.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine