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Scandinavian Journal of Pain

Official Journal of the Scandinavian Association for the Study of Pain

Editor-in-Chief: Breivik, Harald

CiteScore 2017: 0.84

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2017: 0.401
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2017: 0.452

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Chronic pain after bilateral thoracotomy in lung transplant patients

Pernille L. Petersen
  • Corresponding author
  • Department of Ambulatory Surgery, Hvidovre Hospital, Copenhagen University Hospital, Kettegårdsalle 30, 2650 Hvidovre, Copenhagen, Denmark
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/ Pia Bredahl
  • Department of Thoracic Anaesthesiology, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen University Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark
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/ Michael Perch
  • Department of Cardiology, Section for Lung Transplantation, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen University Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark
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/ Christian H. Møller
  • Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen University Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark
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/ Nanna B. Finnerup
  • Danish Pain Research Center, Department of Clinical Medicine, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark
  • Department of Neurology, Aarhus University Hospital, Aarhus, Denmark
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Lone Nikolajsen
Published Online: 2018-12-22 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/sjpain-2018-0126


Background and aims

The relative contribution of patient-related factors and intraoperative nerve damage for the development of chronic pain after surgery is unclear. This study aimed to examine chronic pain after bilateral thoracotomy. We hypothesized, that individual patient-related risk factors would be important resulting in an intraindividual uniformity of pain and hyperphenomena between the two sides of the thorax.


Twenty patients who had undergone lung transplantation via bilateral thoracotomy 6–12 months previously were included from the Danish Lung Transplant program, Rigshospitalet, Denmark, from October 2016 to August 2017. All patients answered questionnaires about pain in and around the scar, completed the Neuropathic Pain Symptom Inventory, and underwent bedside examination for hyperphenomena (brush- and cold-evoked allodynia, pinprick hyperalgesia) and pinprick hypoalgesia.


Nine patients reported spontaneous pain bilaterally, five patients had pain on one side only, and six patients had no pain. Hyperphenomena were present on both sides of the thorax in 13 patients, on one side in four patients, and three patients had no hyperphenomena. The intraindividual uniformity of pain (p=0.029) and hyperphenomena (p=0.011) between the two sides of the thorax suggests that patient-related factors play an important role in the development of chronic pain.


The results of the present study provide support for the hypothesis of an individual predisposition for the development of chronic pain after thoracotomy.


Patient-related risk factors contribute to the development of chronic pain after thoracotomy. This result most likely can be transferred to chronic pain after other surgical procedures and therefore help us understand risk factors for chronic pain after surgery.

Keywords: chronic pain; thoracotomy; hyperalgesia; postoperative pain


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About the article

Received: 2018-08-09

Revised: 2018-10-24

Accepted: 2018-10-29

Published Online: 2018-12-22

Authors’ statements

Research funding: Authors state no funding involved.

Conflict of interest: Authors state no conflict of interest.

Informed consent: Informed consent has been obtained from all individuals included in this study.

Ethical approval: The research complies with all relevant national regulations, institutional policies and was performed in accordance with the tenets of the Helsinki Declaration. The study was waivered by the Regional Ethics Committee and approved by the Danish Data Protection Agency.

Citation Information: Scandinavian Journal of Pain, 20180126, ISSN (Online) 1877-8879, ISSN (Print) 1877-8860, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/sjpain-2018-0126.

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©2018 Scandinavian Association for the Study of Pain. Published by Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston. All rights reserved..Get Permission

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