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JPRAS Open. 2017 Mar;11:1-13. doi: 10.1016/j.jpra.2016.08.005. Epub 2016 Sep 15.

Factors Associated with Acute Postoperative Pain Following Breast Reconstruction.

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Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY.
University of Michigan Healthcare Systems, Ann Arbor, MI.
Center for Statistical Consultation and Research, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI.



Post-mastectomy breast reconstruction has become an increasingly important component of breast cancer treatment. Unfortunately, some patients experience severe postoperative pain, placing them at risk for increased clinical morbidity and the development of disabling chronic pain. In an attempt to identify at-risk patients, we prospectively evaluated patient characteristics and medical/surgical variables associated with more severe acute post-reconstruction pain.


Women (N = 2207; one-week 82.8% response rate) undergoing breast reconstruction were assessed for pain experience, anxiety, depression, and sociodemographic characteristics prior to surgery. Pain assessments were made preoperatively and postoperative at 1-week using validated survey instruments including the McGill Pain Questionnaire-Short Form (MPQ-SF), Numerical Pain Rating Scale (NPRS), and BREAST-Q Chest and Upper Body scale. Depressive symptoms and anxiety severity were assessed by the Patient Health Questionnaire and Generalized Anxiety Disorders Scale, respectively. Mixed-effects regression modeling was used to examine the relationships between patient characteristics and medical/surgical factors and 1-week postoperative pain.


Younger age, bilateral reconstruction, and severity of preoperative pain, anxiety and depression were all associated with more severe acute postoperative pain on all the pain measures and BREAST-Q. Comparison of surgical procedure type indicated less severe postoperative pain for PTRAM, DIEP and SIEA reconstructive surgery compared to tissue expander/implant reconstruction.


This study identified patients at risk for greater acute postoperative pain following breast reconstruction. These findings will allow plastic surgeons to better tailor postoperative care to improve patient comfort, reduce clinical morbidity, and further enhance patient satisfaction with their surgical outcome.


anxiety; breast reconstruction; chronic postsurgical pain; depression; mastectomy; postoperative pain

Conflict of interest statement

Conflict of Interest Statement The authors declare no conflict of interest and none of the authors received royalties or remuneration from their participation in this study.

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