PLoS One. 2022 Jun 10;17(6):e0269455. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0269455. eCollection 2022.
Untreated pain after surgery leads to poor patient satisfaction, longer hospital length of stay, lower health-related quality of life, and non-compliance with rehabilitation regimens. The aim of this study is to characterize the structure of acute pain trajectories during the postsurgical hospitalization period and quantify their association with pain at 30-days and 1-year after surgery. This cohort study included 2106 adult (≥18 years) surgical patients who consented to participate in the SATISFY-SOS registry (February 1, 2015 to September 30, 2017). Patients were excluded if they did not undergo invasive surgeries, were classified as outpatients, failed to complete follow up assessments at 30-days and 1-year following surgery, had greater than 4-days of inpatient stay, and/or recorded fewer than four pain scores during their acute hospitalization period. The primary exposure was the acute postsurgical pain trajectories identified by a machine learning-based latent class approach using patient-reported pain scores. Clinically meaningful pain (≥3 on a 0-10 scale) at 30-days and 1-year after surgery were the primary and secondary outcomes, respectively. Of the study participants (N = 2106), 59% were female, 91% were non-Hispanic White, and the mean (SD) age was 62 (13) years; 41% of patients underwent orthopedic surgery and 88% received general anesthesia. Four acute pain trajectory clusters were identified. Pain trajectories were significantly associated with clinically meaningful pain at 30-days (p = 0.007), but not at 1-year (p = 0.79) after surgery using covariate-adjusted logistic regression models. Compared to Cluster 1, the other clusters had lower statistically significant odds of having pain at 30-days after surgery (Cluster 2: [OR = 0.67, 95%CI (0.51-0.89)]; Cluster 3:[OR = 0.74, 95%CI (0.56-0.99)]; Cluster 4:[OR = 0.46, 95%CI (0.26-0.82)], all p<0.05). Patients in Cluster 1 had the highest cumulative likelihood of pain and pain intensity during the latter half of their acute hospitalization period (48-96 hours), potentially contributing to the higher odds of pain during the 30-day postsurgical period. Early identification and management of high-risk pain trajectories can help in ascertaining appropriate pain management interventions. Such interventions can mitigate the occurrence of long-term disabilities associated with pain.