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Pain Research and Treatment
Volume 2012, Article ID 608359, 8 pages
Clinical Study

Postoperative Pain Trajectories in Cardiac Surgery Patients

1Pain Research Center, Department of Anesthesiology, School of Medicine, University of Utah, 615 Arapeen Drive, Suite 200, Salt Lake City, Utah 84108, USA
2Departments of Anesthesiology and Intensive Care, Friedrich-Schiller University Hospital, 07747 Jena, Germany
3Department of Anesthesiology, Chaim Sheba Medical Center, Sackler School of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv 69978, Israel
4Department of Cardiac Surgery, Chaim Sheba Medical Center, Sackler School of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv 69978, Israel

Received 28 July 2011; Revised 20 September 2011; Accepted 4 October 2011

Academic Editor: Robert N. Jamison

Copyright © 2012 C. Richard Chapman et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Poorly controlled postoperative pain is a longstanding and costly problem in medicine. The purposes of this study were to characterize the acute pain trajectories over the first four postoperative days in 83 cardiac surgery patients with a mixed effects model of linear growth to determine whether statistically significant individual differences exist in these pain trajectories, and to compare the quality of measurement by trajectory with conventional pain measurement practices. The data conformed to a linear model that provided slope (rate of change) as a basis for comparing patients. Slopes varied significantly across patients, indicating that the direction and rate of change in pain during the first four days of recovery from surgery differed systematically across individuals. Of the 83 patients, 24 had decreasing pain after surgery, 24 had increasing pain, and the remaining 35 had approximately constant levels of pain over the four postoperative days.