-- Robert Preidt
WEDNESDAY, Sept. 1 (HealthDay News) -- Many patients experience
more physical and emotional problems a year after elective surgery
than they did before their operation, researchers find.
The study team from the Netherlands interviewed 216 women and
185 men, average age 54, who underwent planned surgery, ranging
from orthopedic to cosmetic procedures.
One year after their surgery, 17 percent of patients said they
experienced more pain, 14 percent said their functional abilities
had declined, 16 percent had poorer mental health, and 24 percent
said they had lower vitality than before the surgery.
In terms of overall recovery, the average level of recovery was
79 percent at six months and 82 percent at one year after surgery.
Only 47 percent of patients achieved near optimal recovery (defined
as 90 percent or more) after one year, with about 15 percent of
patients reporting their recovery at 50 percent or less.
The study was released online Aug. 24 in advance of publication
in an upcoming print issue of the
British Journal of Surgery.
"Our study showed poor recovery was relatively frequent six and 12 months after surgery and could be partly explained by various physical and psychological factors. These included acute postoperative pain and presurgical anxiety," Dr. Madelon Peters of the clinical psychological science department at Maastricht University said in a journal news release.
"The strongest predictor of pain intensity at follow-up was the level of pain in the first four days after the patient's operation. Higher levels of acute postoperative pain were also associated with poorer long-term physical functioning and overall perceived recovery," Peters said. "We also found a significant association between patients who were worried before their operation about the consequences of surgery and lower than average improvements in physical functioning and vitality at follow-up."
The majority of changes in patients' health-related quality of
life occurred in the first six months after surgery. After that
time, the patients' conditions seemed to become stable, the study
"It is clearly important to monitor how patients recover during this period as an initially poor recovery may have lasting consequences," Peters said.
The U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has more
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