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      No evidence of real progress in treatment of acute pain, 1993–2012: scientometric analysis

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          Over the past 2 decades, many new techniques and drugs for the treatment of acute pain have achieved widespread use. The main aim of this study was to assess the progress in their implementation using scientometric analysis. The following scientometric indices were used: 1) popularity index, representing the share of articles on a specific technique (or a drug) relative to all articles in the field of acute pain; 2) index of change, representing the degree of growth in publications on a topic compared to the previous period; and 3) index of expectations, representing the ratio of the number of articles on a topic in the top 20 journals relative to the number of articles in all (>5,000) biomedical journals covered by PubMed. Publications on specific topics (ten techniques and 21 drugs) were assessed during four time periods (1993–1997, 1998–2002, 2003–2007, and 2008–2012). In addition, to determine whether the status of routine acute pain management has improved over the past 20 years, we analyzed surveys designed to be representative of the national population that reflected direct responses of patients reporting pain scores. By the 2008–2012 period, popularity index had reached a substantial level (≥5%) only with techniques or drugs that were introduced 30–50 years ago or more (epidural analgesia, patient-controlled analgesia, nerve blocks, epidural analgesia for labor or delivery, bupivacaine, and acetaminophen). In 2008–2012, promising (although modest) changes of index of change and index of expectations were found only with dexamethasone. Six national surveys conducted for the past 20 years demonstrated an unacceptably high percentage of patients experiencing moderate or severe pain with not even a trend toward outcome improvement. Thus, techniques or drugs that were introduced and achieved widespread use for acute pain management within the past 20 years have produced no changes in scientometric indices that would indicate real progress and have failed to improve national outcomes for relief of acute pain. Two possible reasons for this are discussed: 1) the difference between the effectiveness of old and new techniques is not clinically meaningful; and 2) resources necessary for appropriate use of new techniques in routine pain management are not adequate.

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          Efficacy of postoperative epidural analgesia: a meta-analysis.

          Whether epidural analgesia is a better method than parenteral opioids for postoperative pain control remains controversial. To systematically review the efficacy of postoperative epidural analgesia vs parenteral opioids, the primary alternative technique. Studies were identified primarily by searching the National Library of Medicine's PubMed database (1966 to April 25, 2002) and other sources for studies related to postoperative epidural analgesia. Inclusion criteria were a comparison of epidural therapy vs parenteral opioids for postoperative analgesia, measurement of pain using a visual analog scale (VAS) or numeric rating scale, randomization of patients to either therapy, and adult patients (> or =18 years). A total of 1404 abstracts were identified, 100 of which met all inclusion criteria. Each article was reviewed and data extracted from tables, text, or extrapolated from figures as needed. Weighted mean pain scores, weighted mean differences in pain score, and weighted incidences of complications were determined by using a fixed-effect model. Epidural analgesia provided better postoperative analgesia compared with parenteral opioids (mean [SE], 19.40 mm [0.17] vs 29.40 mm [0.20] on the VAS; P<.001). When analyzed by postoperative day, epidural analgesia was better than parenteral opioids on each postoperative day (P<.001 for each day after surgery). For all types of surgery and pain assessments, all forms of epidural analgesia provided significantly better postoperative analgesia compared with parenteral opioid analgesia (P<.001 for all), with the exception of thoracic epidural analgesia vs opioids for rest pain after thoracic surgery (weighted mean difference, 0.6 mm; 95% confidence interval, -0.3 to 1.5 mm; P =.12). The complication rates were lower than expected for nausea or vomiting and pruritus but comparable with existing data for lower extremity motor block. Epidural analgesia, regardless of analgesic agent, location of catheter placement, and type and time of pain assessment, provided better postoperative analgesia compared with parenteral opioids.
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              Effectiveness of acute postoperative pain management: I. Evidence from published data.

              This review examines the evidence from published data concerning the incidence of moderate-severe and of severe pain after major surgery, with three analgesic techniques; intramuscular (i.m.) analgesia, patient controlled analgesia (PCA), and epidural analgesia. A MEDLINE search of the literature was conducted for publications concerned with the management of postoperative pain. Over 800 original papers and reviews were identified. Of these 212 papers fulfilled the inclusion criteria but only 165 provided usable data on pain intensity and pain relief. Pooled data on pain scores obtained from these studies, which represent the experience of a total of nearly 20,000 patients, form the basis of this review. Different pain measurement tools provided comparable data. When considering a mixture of three analgesic techniques, the overall mean (95% CI) incidence of moderate-severe pain and of severe pain was 29.7 (26.4-33.0)% and 10.9 (8.4-13.4)%, respectively. The overall mean (95% CI) incidence of poor pain relief and of fair-to-poor pain relief was 3.5 (2.4-4.6)% and 19.4 (16.4-22.3)%, respectively. For i.m. analgesia the incidence of moderate-severe pain was 67.2 (58.1-76.2)% and that of severe pain was 29.1 (18.8-39.4)%. For PCA, the incidence of moderate-severe pain was 35.8 (31.4-40.2)% and that of severe pain was 10.4 (8.0-12.8)%. For epidural analgesia the incidence of moderate-severe pain was 20.9 (17.8-24.0)% and that of severe pain was 7.8 (6.1-9.5)%. The incidence of premature catheter dislodgement was 5.7 (4.0-7.4)%. Over the period 1973-1999 there has been a highly significant (P < 0.0001) reduction in the incidence of moderate-severe pain of 1.9 (1.1-2.7)% per year. These results suggest that the UK Audit Commission (1997) proposed standards of care might be unachievable using current analgesic techniques. The data may be useful in setting standards of care for Acute Pain Services.

                Author and article information

                J Pain Res
                J Pain Res
                Journal of Pain Research
                Dove Medical Press
                11 April 2014
                : 7
                : 199-210
                Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Igor Kissin, Department of Anesthesiology, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, 75 Francis Street, Boston, MA 02115, USA, Tel +1 617 732 5052, Fax +1 617 734 0682, Email kissin@ 123456zeus.bwh.harvard.edu
                © 2014 Correll et al. This work is published by Dove Medical Press Limited, and licensed under Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License

                The full terms of the License are available at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed.

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