Object. Opioid administration after major intracranial surgery is often limited by a presumed lack of need and a concern that opioids will adversely affect the postoperative neurological examination. The authors conducted a prospective study to evaluate the incidence, severity, and treatment of postoperative pain in patients who underwent major intracranial surgery. Methods. One hundred eighty-seven patients (77 men and 110 women, mean age 52 ± 15 years, mean weight 78.1 ± 19.9 kg) underwent either supratentorial (129 patients) or infratentorial (58 patients) procedures. Sixty-nine percent of the patients reported experiencing moderate to severe pain (≥ 4 on a 0-10 scale) during the 1st postoperative day. Pain scores greater than or equal to 4 persisted in 48% on the 2nd postoperative day. Approximately 80% of patients were treated with acetaminophen on the 1st postoperative day, whereas opioids (primarily intravenous fentanyl) were administered to 58%. Compared with patients who underwent supratentorial procedures, those who underwent infratentorial procedures reported more severe pain at rest (mean score 4.9 ± 2.2 compared with 3.8 ± 2.6; p = 0.015) and with movement (mean score 6.3 ± 2.6 compared with 4.5 ± 2.7; p < 0.001) on the 1st postoperative day. On both the 1st and 2nd postoperative days, patients who underwent infratentorial procedures received greater quantities of opioid (p ≤ 0.019) and nonopioid (p ≤ 0.013) analgesics than those who underwent supratentorial procedures. Patients' dissatisfaction with analgesic therapy was significantly associated with elevated pain levels on the first 2 postoperative days (p < 0.001). Conclusions. In contrast to prevailing assumptions, the study findings reveal that most patients undergoing elective major intracranial surgery will experience moderate to severe pain for the first 2 days after surgery and that this pain is often inadequately treated.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||7|
|Journal||Journal of neurosurgery|
|State||Published - Feb 1 2007|
- Pain control
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology