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Study finds gender divide in levels of postoperative pain

Men feel more pain following major surgery, while women feel more pain after minor procedures, according to Austrian researchers.

Patients were interviewed 24 hours following their operation based on a purpose-designed questionnaire. This incorporated details about surgery and anaesthesia and questions about the patient’s wellbeing and postoperative pain. 

The University of Graz study took more than four years and 10,200 patients were interviewed, of which 42% were male and 58% were female.

Men were 27% more likely to experience a greater number of moderate pain episodes after major vascular and orthopaedic surgery, while women were 34% more likely to report higher pain ratings after minor procedures, such biopsies.

The study authors said: “The gender differences on pain perception are still heavily disputed, both in experimental and clinical fields.

“Our data do not definitely clarify this issue. However, based on our findings it can be presumed that the type (and severity) of surgery may play a pivotal role, as females express higher pain scores after minor procedures, whereas males are more affected after major surgery,” they added.

The research was presented last week at the Euroanaesthesia conference in Stockholm.


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