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Poor Recovery Frequent After Surgery

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

A study shows that poor recovery is frequent among patients who undergo planned surgery, lasting up to one year. One in seven patients reported more pain, physical disability and emotional problems and one fourth report less vitality a year after an operation that ranged from plastic surgery to orthopedic operations.

Researchers from the Netherlands interviewed 216 women and 185 men who had undergone planned 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" says Dr Madelon Peters from the Department of Clinical Psychological Science at Maastricht University. "These included acute postoperative pain and presurgical anxiety."

Seventeen Percent of Patients have More Pain one Year After Surgery

The researchers say the findings show the importance of monitoring patients for outcomes. Seventeen percent of those interviewed had more pain one year after surgery, 16 percent reported emotional problems and 24 percent reported less vitality.

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Of the 400 patients interviewed, just 47 percent said they felt they had fully recovered after one year.

Peters says, "Our research found that 15% of patients were still reporting pain and physical and emotional problems a year after surgery and 24% felt they had less vitality than before their operation." The researchers say patients who were worried before having surgery had lower than average improvements in physical function and vitality.

Most of the changes in quality of life after planned surgery happened within six months and then remained stable. The authors say, "It is clearly important to monitor how patients recover during this period as an initially poor recovery may have lasting consequences." More painful surgeries were linked to the worse physical functioning one year later and lower perception of recovery.

British Journal of Surgery