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Chronic pain after caesarean delivery: an Australian cohort

Department of Anaesthesia and Pain Management, Nepean Hospital, Penrith, New South Wales, Australia


We investigated the incidence of and risk factors for persistent pain after caesarean delivery. Over a 12-month period, women having caesarean delivery were recruited prospectively at an Australian tertiary referral centre. Demographic, anaesthetic and surgical data were collected and at 24 hour follow-up, women were assessed for immediate postoperative pain and preoperative expectations of pain. Long-term telephone follow-up was conducted at two and 12 months postoperatively. Complete data were obtained from 426 of 469 women initially recruited (90.6%). The incidence of persistent pain at the abdominal wound at two months was 14.6% (n=62) but subsequently reduced to 4.2% (n=18) at 12 months. At two months, 33 patients (7.8%) experienced constant or daily pain. At 12 months, five patients (1.1%) continued to have constant or daily pain which was mild. There was no apparent increase in incidence of persistent pain associated with general versus regional anaesthesia (relative risk [RR] 0.89, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.49 to 1.6); emergency vs elective procedure (RR 0.65, 95% CI 0.39 to 1.07); higher acute pain scores (RR 1.1, 95% CI 0.69 to 1.75); or history of previous caesarean delivery (RR 0.81, 95% CI 0.50 to 1.33). Persistent pain, usually of a mild nature, is reported by some women two months after their caesarean delivery, but by 12 months less than 1% of women had pain requiring analgesia or affecting mood or sleep. All declined a pain clinic review. Clinicians and patients can be reassured that caesarean delivery is unlikely to lead to severe persistent pain in the long-term.

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