Early postoperative neuropathic pain assessed by the DN4 score predicts an increased risk of persistent postsurgical neuropathic pain

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Acute neuropathic pain can occur in the postoperative period but any link with persistent post-surgical neuropathic pain remains unclear.


The objectives of this study were to prospectively describe the incidence of acute post-surgical neuropathic pain in a large population using the DN4 (clinician administered) questionnaire and to confirm the hypothetical link between acute and persistent neuropathic pain at 2 months after surgery in a large population using the DN2 (self administered) questionnaire.


A multi-centre, prospective and observational trial.


Two consecutive days in 27 hospitals in France.


Six hundred and eight patients undergoing 13 different types of surgery. Fifteen patients were excluded as data were incomplete, and 229 (38.6%) and 260 (43.8%) were not contactable for assessment at 1 and 2 months after surgery, respectively.


Pain was evaluated at least 2 h postoperatively on the same day (D0),on the second day (D2) and at 1 and 2 months after surgery (M1 and M2). Pain was assessed using a 10-point Numeric Rating Scale. If the Numeric Rating Scale score was greater than 0, neuropathic pain was assessed using a DN4 (clinician administered) questionnaire or using a DN2 (self-administered) questionnaire. Acute and persistent postsurgical neuropathic pain (PPSNP) were defined respectively by a DN4 score at least 4/10 on day 0 and/or day 2 and a DN2 score at least 3/7 at 2 months after surgery.


Of the 593 patients included, 41.2% were in pain before surgery and 8.2% described neuropathic pain. Early after surgery, the majority of the 593 patients (72.2% on the day of surgery and 71.3% on day 2) experienced acute pain. It was neuropathic in nature in 5.6% of patients (95% CI, 3.6 to 8.3) on the day of surgery and 12.9% (95% CI, 9.7 to 16.7) on day 2. Two months after surgery, PPSNP was present in 33.3% of the 333 patients assessed. Multivariate analysis showed that a DN4 score at least 4/10 on the day of surgery or on day 2 was a significant risk factor for PPSNP [odds ratios 4.22 (95% CI, 2.19 to 8.12)].


Our results suggest that early acute postsurgical neuropathic pain significantly increases the risk of persistent post-surgical neuropathic pain.


Clinicaltrials.gov identifier: NTC NCT02826317.

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