Recent years have witnessed substantially increased research regarding sex differences in pain. The expansive body of literature in this area clearly suggests that men and women differ in their responses to pain, with increased pain sensitivity and risk for clinical pain commonly being observed among women. Also, differences in responsivity to pharmacological and non-pharmacological pain interventions have been observed; however, these effects are not always consistent and appear dependent on treatment type and characteristics of both the pain and the provider. Although the specific aetiological basis underlying these sex differences is unknown, it seems inevitable that multiple biological and psychosocial processes are contributing factors. For instance, emerging evidence suggests that genotype and endogenous opioid functioning play a causal role in these disparities, and considerable literature implicates sex hormones as factors influencing pain sensitivity. However, the specific modulatory effect of sex hormones on pain among men and women requires further exploration. Psychosocial processes such as pain coping and early-life exposure to stress may also explain sex differences in pain, in addition to stereotypical gender roles that may contribute to differences in pain expression. Therefore, this review will provide a brief overview of the extant literature examining sex-related differences in clinical and experimental pain, and highlights several biopsychosocial mechanisms implicated in these male–female differences. The future directions of this field of research are discussed with an emphasis aimed towards further elucidation of mechanisms which may inform future efforts to develop sex-specific treatments.
gender differences; opioid analgesics; pain; pain perception; sex differences
Interest in the use of psychosocial interventions to help older adults manage pain is growing. In this article, we review this approach. The first section reviews the conceptual background for psychosocial interventions with a special emphasis on the biopsychosocial model of pain. The second section highlights three psychosocial interventions used with older adults: cognitive behavioural therapy, emotional disclosure, and mind–body interventions (specifically mindfulness-based stress reduction and yoga). The final section of the paper highlights important future directions for work in this area.
age; chronic pain
Chronic pain is a state of physical suffering strongly associated with feelings of anxiety, depression and despair. Disease pathophysiology, psychological state, and social milieu can influence chronic pain, but can be difficult to diagnose based solely on clinical presentation. Here, we review brain neuroimaging research that is shaping our understanding of pain mechanisms, and consider how such knowledge might lead to useful diagnostic tools for the management of persistent pain in individual patients.
chronic pain; neuroimaging, magnetic resonance imaging, functional
Preoperative anaemia is common in patients undergoing orthopaedic and other major surgery. Anaemia is associated with increased risks of postoperative mortality and morbidity, infectious complications, prolonged hospitalization, and a greater likelihood of allogeneic red blood cell (RBC) transfusion. Evidence of the clinical and economic disadvantages of RBC transfusion in treating perioperative anaemia has prompted recommendations for its restriction and a growing interest in approaches that rely on patients' own (rather than donor) blood. These approaches are collectively termed ‘patient blood management’ (PBM). PBM involves the use of multidisciplinary, multimodal, individualized strategies to minimize RBC transfusion with the ultimate goal of improving patient outcomes. PBM relies on approaches (pillars) that detect and treat perioperative anaemia and reduce surgical blood loss and perioperative coagulopathy to harness and optimize physiological tolerance of anaemia. After the recent resolution 63.12 of the World Health Assembly, the implementation of PBM is encouraged in all WHO member states. This new standard of care is now established in some centres in the USA and Austria, in Western Australia, and nationally in the Netherlands. However, there is a pressing need for European healthcare providers to integrate PBM strategies into routine care for patients undergoing orthopaedic and other types of surgery in order to reduce the use of unnecessary transfusions and improve the quality of care. After reviewing current PBM practices in Europe, this article offers recommendations supporting its wider implementation, focusing on anaemia management, the first of the three pillars of PBM.
anaemia; outcome; patient blood management; transfusion
It has been assumed that anaesthetics have minimal or no persistent effects after emergence from anaesthesia. However, general anaesthetics act on multiple ion channels, receptors, and cell signalling systems in the central nervous system to produce anaesthesia, so it should come as no surprise that they also have non-anaesthetic actions that range from beneficial to detrimental. Accumulating evidence is forcing the anaesthesia community to question the safety of general anaesthesia at the extremes of age. Preclinical data suggest that inhaled anaesthetics can have profound and long-lasting effects during key neurodevelopmental periods in neonatal animals by increasing neuronal cell death (apoptosis) and reducing neurogenesis. Clinical data remain conflicting on the significance of these laboratory data to the paediatric population. At the opposite extreme in age, elderly patients are recognized to be at an increased risk of postoperative cognitive dysfunction (POCD) with a well-recognized decline in cognitive function after surgery. The underlying mechanisms and the contribution of anaesthesia in particular to POCD remain unclear. Laboratory models suggest anaesthetic interactions with neurodegenerative mechanisms, such as those linked to the onset and progression of Alzheimer's disease, but their clinical relevance remains inconclusive. Prospective randomized clinical trials are underway to address the clinical significance of these findings, but there are major challenges in designing, executing, and interpreting such trials. It is unlikely that definitive clinical studies absolving general anaesthetics of neurotoxicity will become available in the near future, requiring clinicians to use careful judgement when using these profound neurodepressants in vulnerable patients.
anaesthesia, general; Alzheimer's disease; neurobehavioural manifestations; postoperative complications
The cost-effectiveness of sugammadex for the routine reversal of muscle relaxation produced by rocuronium or vecuronium in UK practice is uncertain. We performed a systematic review of randomized controlled trials of sugammadex compared with neostigmine/glycopyrrolate and an economic assessment of sugammadex for the reversal of moderate or profound neuromuscular block (NMB) produced by rocuronium or vecuronium. The economic assessment aimed to establish the reduction in recovery time and the ‘value of time saved’ which would be necessary for sugammadex to be potentially cost-effective compared with existing practice. Three trials indicated that sugammadex 2 mg kg−1 (4 mg kg−1) produces more rapid recovery from moderate (profound) NMB than neostigmine/glycopyrrolate. The economic assessment indicated that if the reductions in recovery time associated with sugammadex in the trials are replicated in routine practice, sugammadex would be cost-effective if those reductions are achieved in the operating theatre (assumed value of staff time, £4.44 per minute), but not if they are achieved in the recovery room (assumed value of staff time, £0.33 per minute). However, there is considerable uncertainty in these results. Sugammadex has the potential to be cost-effective compared with neostigmine/glycopyrrolate for the reversal of rocuronium-induced moderate or profound NMB, provided that the time savings observed in trials can be achieved and put to productive use in clinical practice. Further research is required to evaluate the effects of sugammadex on patient safety, predictability of recovery from NMB, patient outcomes, and efficient use of resources.
clinical trials; neuromuscular block, recovery; neuromuscular block, rocuronium
Sugammadex 16 mg kg−1 can be used for the immediate reversal of neuromuscular block 3 min after administration of rocuronium and could be used in place of succinylcholine for emergency intubation. We have systematically reviewed the efficacy and cost-effectiveness and made an economic assessment of sugammadex for immediate reversal. The economic assessment investigated whether sugammadex appears cost-effective under various assumptions about the value of any reduction in recovery time with sugammadex, the likelihood of a ‘can't intubate, can't ventilate’ (CICV) event, the age of the patient, and the length of the procedure. Three trials were included in the efficacy review. Sugammadex administered 3 or 5 min after rocuronium produced markedly faster recovery than placebo or spontaneous recovery from succinylcholine-induced block. No published economic evaluations were found. Our economic analyses showed that sugammadex appears more cost-effective, where the value of any reduction in recovery time is greater, where the reduction in mortality compared with succinylcholine is greater, and where the patient is younger, for lower probabilities of a CICV event and for long procedures which do not require profound block throughout. Because of the lack of evidence, the value of some parameters remains unknown, which makes it difficult to provide a definitive assessment of the cost-effectiveness of sugammadex in practice. The use of sugammadex in combination with high-dose rocuronium is efficacious. Further research is needed to clarify key parameters in the analysis and to allow a fuller economic assessment.
complications, intubation tracheal; neuromuscular block, recovery; neuromuscular block, rocuronium; neuromuscular block, succinylcholine
Topical capsaicin formulations are used for pain management. Safety and modest efficacy of low-concentration capsaicin formulations, which require repeated daily self-administration, are supported by meta-analyses of numerous studies. A high-concentration capsaicin 8% patch (Qutenza™) was recently approved in the EU and USA. A single 60-min application in patients with neuropathic pain produced effective pain relief for up to 12 weeks. Advantages of the high-concentration capsaicin patch include longer duration of effect, patient compliance, and low risk for systemic effects or drug–drug interactions. The mechanism of action of topical capsaicin has been ascribed to depletion of substance P. However, experimental and clinical studies show that depletion of substance P from nociceptors is only a correlate of capsaicin treatment and has little, if any, causative role in pain relief. Rather, topical capsaicin acts in the skin to attenuate cutaneous hypersensitivity and reduce pain by a process best described as ‘defunctionalization’ of nociceptor fibres. Defunctionalization is due to a number of effects that include temporary loss of membrane potential, inability to transport neurotrophic factors leading to altered phenotype, and reversible retraction of epidermal and dermal nerve fibre terminals. Peripheral neuropathic hypersensitivity is mediated by diverse mechanisms, including altered expression of the capsaicin receptor TRPV1 or other key ion channels in affected or intact adjacent peripheral nociceptive nerve fibres, aberrant re-innervation, and collateral sprouting, all of which are defunctionalized by topical capsaicin. Evidence suggests that the utility of topical capsaicin may extend beyond painful peripheral neuropathies.
capsaicin; nerve growth factor; neuropathic pain; nociceptor; TRPV1
Previously undiagnosed anaemia is common in elective orthopaedic surgical patients and is associated with increased likelihood of blood transfusion and increased perioperative morbidity and mortality. A standardized approach for the detection, evaluation, and management of anaemia in this setting has been identified as an unmet medical need. A multidisciplinary panel of physicians was convened by the Network for Advancement of Transfusion Alternatives (NATA) with the aim of developing practice guidelines for the detection, evaluation, and management of preoperative anaemia in elective orthopaedic surgery. A systematic literature review and critical evaluation of the evidence was performed, and recommendations were formulated according to the method proposed by the Grades of Recommendation Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) Working Group. We recommend that elective orthopaedic surgical patients have a haemoglobin (Hb) level determination 28 days before the scheduled surgical procedure if possible (Grade 1C). We suggest that the patient's target Hb before elective surgery be within the normal range, according to the World Health Organization criteria (Grade 2C). We recommend further laboratory testing to evaluate anaemia for nutritional deficiencies, chronic renal insufficiency, and/or chronic inflammatory disease (Grade 1C). We recommend that nutritional deficiencies be treated (Grade 1C). We suggest that erythropoiesis-stimulating agents be used for anaemic patients in whom nutritional deficiencies have been ruled out, corrected, or both (Grade 2A). Anaemia should be viewed as a serious and treatable medical condition, rather than simply an abnormal laboratory value. Implementation of anaemia management in the elective orthopaedic surgery setting will improve patient outcomes.
anaemia; blood transfusion; orthopaedic surgery; preoperative assessment; preoperative preparation
After fluid resuscitation, vasoactive drug treatment represents the major cornerstone for correcting any major impairment of the circulation. However, debate still rages as to the choice of agent, dose, timing, targets, and monitoring modalities that should optimally be used to benefit the patient yet, at the same time, minimize harm. This review highlights these areas and some new pharmacological agents that broaden our therapeutic options.
arterial pressure, drug effects; cardiovascular system, effects; heart, cardiac output; oxygen, therapy; pharmacology, agonists adrenergic
General anaesthetics act in an agent-specific manner on synaptic transmission in the central nervous system by enhancing inhibitory transmission and reducing excitatory transmission. The synaptic mechanisms of general anaesthetics involve both presynaptic effects on transmitter release and postsynaptic effects on receptor function. The halogenated volatile anaesthetics inhibit neuronal voltage-gated Na+ channels at clinical concentrations. Reductions in neurotransmitter release by volatile anaesthetics involve inhibition of presynaptic action potentials as a result of Na+ channel blockade. Although voltage-gated ion channels have been assumed to be insensitive to general anaesthetics, it is now evident that clinical concentrations of volatile anaesthetics inhibit Na+ channels in isolated rat nerve terminals and neurons, as well as heterologously expressed mammalian Na+ channel α subunits. Voltage-gated Na+ channels have emerged as promising targets for some of the effects of the inhaled anaesthetics. Knowledge of the synaptic mechanisms of general anaesthetics is essential for optimization of anaesthetic techniques for advanced surgical procedures and for the development of improved anaesthetics.
anaesthetics volatile; anaesthetics volatile, halogenated hydrocarbons; nerve, neurotransmitters; pharmacology, anaesthetic action; pharmacology, neurotransmission