Preoperative Frailty and Chronic Pain After Cardiac Surgery: A Prospective Observational Study

A Prospective Observational Study

Britta C. Arends; Leon Timmerman; Lisette M. Vernooij; Lisa Verwijmeren; Douwe H. Biesma; Eric P. A. van Dongen; Peter G. Noordzij; Heleen J Blussé van Oud-Alblas


BMC Anesthesiol. 2022;22(201) 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Background: Chronic pain after cardiac surgery, whether or not related to the operation, is common and has negative impact on health related quality of life (HRQL). Frailty is a risk factor for adverse surgical outcomes, but its relationship with chronic pain after cardiac surgery is unknown. This study aimed to address the association between frailty and chronic pain following cardiac surgery.

Methods: This sub-study of the Anesthesia Geriatric Evaluation study included 518 patients ≥ 70 years undergoing elective cardiac surgery. Pain was evaluated with the Short-Form 36 questionnaire prior to and one year after surgery. Associations between chronic postoperative pain and frailty domains, including medication use, nutritional status, mobility, physical functioning, cognition, HRQL, living situation and educational level, were investigated with multivariable regression analysis.

Results: Chronic pain one year after cardiac surgery was reported in 182 patients (35%). Medication use, living situation, mobility, gait speed, Nagi's physical functioning and preoperative HRQL were frailty domains associated with chronic pain after surgery. For patients with chronic pain physical HRQL after one year was worse compared to patients without chronic pain (β –10.37, 99% CI –12.57 – –8.17).

Conclusions: Preoperative polypharmacy, living alone, physical frailty and lower mental HRQL are associated with chronic pain following cardiac surgery. Chronic postoperative pain is related to worse physical HRQL one year after cardiac surgery. These findings may guide future preoperative interventions to reduce chronic pain and poor HRQL after cardiac surgery in older patients.

Trial Registration: This trial has been registered before initiation under number NCT02535728 at