Preventing Post-Thoracotomy Pain Syndrome



This article provides a concise overview of post-thoracotomy pain syndrome, describes anesthetic and surgical factors that have been investigated to reduce the incidence of the syndrome, and explores the effectiveness of various treatments for this condition. Although some interventions (both procedural and pharmacologic) have been investigated in both preventing and treating post-thoracotomy pain syndrome, definitive studies are lacking and firm conclusions regarding the benefit of any intervention cannot be drawn. The problem is compounded further by our lack of understanding of the pathophysiologic mechanisms underlying the development of chronic pain after surgery. Going forward, it will be important to elucidate these mechanisms and conduct well-designed trials involving novel therapeutic agents for both prevention and treatment of post-thoracotomy pain syndrome. Mt Sinai J Med 79:133–139, 2012.© 2012 Mount Sinai School of Medicine