Is There an Impact of Sex on Acute Postthoracotomy Pain? A Retrospective Analysis

Daniel Auinger*, Andreas Sandner-Kiesling, Anneliese Strießnig, Jörg Lindenmann, Josef Smolle, Herwig Friedl, Freyja-Maria Smolle-Jüttner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Current knowledge about sex-related differences states that pain is generally more frequent and intense in women. Because severe postthoracotomy pain is associated with complications, sufficient pain control is essential. Data on sex-related aspects in the context of pain after thoracotomy are scarce. The study attempted to determine whether sex significantly affects pain and pain treatment after thoracotomy. Methods: This retrospective study assessed visual analogue scale (VAS) scores and analgesic consumption (opioids and diclofenac) during the first 5 days after surgery and the point in time when analgesics were changed from the intravenous to the oral route in patients who had open lung surgery. The influences of sex, PCEA (patient-controlled epidural analgesia), age, and surgical factors were evaluated with mixed-model analysis. Results: The study was able to include 344 patients (130 female, 214 male). The VAS scores model did not consider sex as relevant. The opioid model showed a PCEA-time-sex interaction with increasing opioid demand after day 3 that predominantly affected male patients (P < .001). Diclofenac doses where significantly higher in an interaction of female sex and small extent of surgery (P = .007). Posterolateral thoracotomy led to significantly higher VAS scores (P < .001) and higher demand for opioids (P = .007) and diclofenac (P = .012). Conclusions: The study concluded that there are no general sex-related differences in pain intensity and analgesic requirement after thoracotomy. Anterolateral thoracotomy was the less painful surgical approach. PCEA had favorable results, although there seemed to a rebound pain phenomenon after epidural catheter removal on postoperative day 3 that mainly affected male patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1104-1111
Number of pages8
JournalThe Annals of Thoracic Surgery
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Surgery


Dive into the research topics of 'Is There an Impact of Sex on Acute Postthoracotomy Pain? A Retrospective Analysis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this