Optimising pain management protocols following cardiac surgery: A protocol for a national quality improvement study

S Jayakumar, M Borrelli, Z Milan, G Kunst, D Whitaker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Pain following cardiac surgery is a multifaceted phenomenon resulting from a number of mechanisms. High-levels of post-operative pain are associated with cardiovascular and respiratory complications and adequate pain management is crucial for enabling fast recovery. However, adequate pain control is complex, a challenge that stems from a combination of poor reporting of pain, significant variation amongst patients and the side-effects of strong, particularly opioid, analgesics. An initial audit at our hospital demonstrated high-levels of post-operative pain following cardiac surgery and a protocol was therefore devised by the anaesthetic department for cardiac surgical pain management. The protocol stratified patients into high- or low-risk of pain based on the presence of risk factors for pain and utilised a combination of pre-operative one-off dose of gabapentin, intra-operative opioid infusion and post-operative multimodal analgesia with paracetamol, weak and strong opioids. Additionally, patients at high-risk of pain also received patient controlled analgesia. Use of this protocol was associated with improved pain scores on the first three post-operative days. We have devised this study to test for reproducibility of the benefit experienced at our hospital at a larger multicentre level. After acquiring pre-existing post-operative pain management strategies through an initial survey, local study leads will undertake a baseline audit. Local study leads will then lead a 4-week period of protocol implementation. Trusts with official pain management protocols will be given the option to re-circulate their pre-existing protocols. Subsequently, pain scores during post-operative days 1-3 will be re-audited.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Surgery Protocols
Publication statusPublished - 2019


Dive into the research topics of 'Optimising pain management protocols following cardiac surgery: A protocol for a national quality improvement study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this