The use of halogenated agents for anesthetic during a mastectomy operation may be associated with a lower incidence of long-term chronic postmastectomy pain (CPMP), according to a paper published in the the Journal of Clinical Anesthesia.
The retrospective cross-sectional survey of 128 women who underwent mastectomy with axillary lymph node dissection set out to determine whether the anesthetic or analgesic regimen used perioperatively had any impact on the risk of long-term chronic postoperative pain.
Overall, 43.8% of the women reported chronic pain, and nearly half of these showed neuropathic characteristics with an ID Pain score greater than or equal to 2 (J Clin Anesthesia. 2016;33:20-25.).
Those who were given a halogenated agent for anesthesia during the operation – 64% of patients in the survey - had a significant 19% lower incidence of chronic long-term postoperative mastectomy pain (95% CI, 0.70-0.95; P = .012).
Arnaud Steyaert, MD, and colleagues at the Catholic University of Louvain (Belgium) described this result as surprising, noting that sevoflurane use was recently found to be a risk factor for chronic pain after breast cancer surgery.
“An explanation for this discrepancy could be that the influence of sevoflurane on the development of CPMP depends on the other components of the anesthetic regimen,” the authors wrote, pointing out that the aforementioned study included the use of remifentanil in all patients, which can trigger acute opioid-induced hyperalgesia and chronic pain after surgery.
Apart from this effect, the authors said they did not see any impact from other analgesics – which included sufentanil, ketamine, clonidine, NSAIDs, and/or magnesium sulfate – on the risk of long-term chronic pain. However, patients treated with piritramide in the recovery room did have a significant 30% greater risk of chronic postoperative pain.
The study also found that patients who needed strong opioids in the postanesthesia care unit had a 30% higher risk of chronic long-term pain (95% CI, 1.11-1.53). “This was expected, as more intense acute postoperative pain is a known risk factor for developing chronic postsurgical pain, including CPMP,” the authors wrote.
Patients who had received adjuvant chemotherapy had a 32% higher incidence of chronic long-term pain, but there was no increase in risk associated with adjuvant radiotherapy. Both are known to cause neurotoxicity and therefore neuropathic pain, the authors commented.
No conflicts of interest were declared.