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Liver Transpl. 2014 Nov;20(11):1336-46. doi: 10.1002/lt.23949. Epub 2014 Sep 29.

Acute and chronic postsurgical pain after living liver donation: Incidence and predictors.

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Department of Psychology, University of British Columbia, Kelowna, Canada.


Despite its prominence as a concern among potential surgical candidates, there is little information in the literature regarding the short- and long-term pain experience after living liver donation. We undertook a prospective study to examine (1) the nature and incidence of acute and chronic pain after living donor hepatectomy and (2) the factors associated with an increased or decreased risk of adverse pain outcomes. Before donation, a comprehensive assessment of potential predictors of acute and chronic pain outcomes was conducted; this included donors' pain expectations, psychosocial factors, medical histories, and demographic factors. Detailed data regarding pain outcomes were collected postoperatively (days 1 and 2) and again during 6- and 12-month follow-up telephone interviews. Sixty-five adults (32 females and 33 males) scheduled for donor hepatectomy participated. Substantial proportions of the donors reported a moderate-to-severe level of pain intensity (≥4 on a 0-10 scale) at rest and after movement on day 1 (42% and 74%, respectively) and day 2 (33% and 32%, respectively). Persistent postsurgical pain was reported by 31% of the donors at the 6-month follow-up and by 27% of the donors at the 12-month follow-up. Generally, this pain was mild, and pain-related life interference was minimal. Female sex, a younger age, and several predonation measures of pain-related anxiety were associated with a significantly greater risk of developing persistent postsurgical pain. In conclusion, this study has identified a subset of patients who experience persistent pain after living liver donation. Additional prospective research using larger samples of liver donors is needed to replicate this work, to obtain a more detailed account of the acute and long-term pain experience, and to determine whether targeted interventions can minimize the frequency and severity of chronic pain.

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