Post-thoracotomy pain is defined as a consistent pain, burning or aching in the general area of the incision that persists at least two months after a thoracotomy. It occurs in approximately 50 percent of patients after thoracotomy and is usually mild or moderate.
However, in five percent of patients, the pain persists and is severe. The most likely cause is nerve damage to the surrounding tissues, although why this occurs is not known.
Evaluation for Post-Thoracotomy Syndrome
The evaluation for Post-thoracotomy is a multi-step process.
- All new patients seen at the Pain Center receive The Brief Pain Inventory™. This document asks you the following questions:
- About your pain
- Where you feel the pain
- When you feel the pain
- Describe the type and sensations of the pain
- Lee Ann Rhodes, MD, will ask to see all your medical records.
- Typically, you will be evaluated by a nurse. You will be given a full medical workup, including your vital signs and a list of your symptoms and complaints.
- After Dr. Rhodes speaks to the nurse, she will come in to talk to you and to continue the examination. Dr. Rhodes will design an individualized treatment plan to help treat your pain symptoms. Most often, this plan will include referrals to other professionals on Our Team.
- You will follow-up with Dr. Rhodes two to four weeks after your initial appointment.
Treatment for Post Thoracotomy Syndrome
The pain symptoms for PMP are treated using a combination of: