Pain and Opioid Use After Thoracic Surgery: Where We Are and Where We Need To Go

Lisa M. Brown, Anna Kratz, Susan Verba, Daniel Tancredi, Daniel J. Clauw, Tina Palmieri, David Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


As many as one third of patients undergoing minimally invasive thoracic surgery and one half undergoing thoracotomy will have chronic pain, defined as pain lasting 2 to 3 months. There is limited information regarding predictors of chronic pain and even less is known about its impact on health-related quality of life, known as pain interference. Currently, there is a focus on decreased opioid prescribing after surgery. Interestingly, thoracic surgical patients are the least likely to be receiving opioids before surgery and have the highest rate of new persistent opioid use after surgery compared with other surgical cohorts. These studies of opioid use have identified important predictors of new persistent opioid use, but their findings are limited by failing to correlate opioid use with pain. The objectives of this invited review are to present the findings of pertinent studies of chronic pain and opioid use after thoracic surgery, “where we are,” and to discuss gaps in our knowledge of these topics and opportunities for research to fill those gaps, “where we need to go.”

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1638-1645
Number of pages8
JournalAnnals of Thoracic Surgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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