Monitoring of skin conductance to assess postoperative pain intensity

Thomas Ledowski, J. Bromilow, Mike Paech, H. Storm, R. Hacking, Stephan Schug

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    78 Citations (Scopus)


    Background. Pain is known to alter the electrogalvanic properties of the skin. The aim of this pilot study was to investigate the influence of postoperative pain on skin conductance (SC) readings.Methods. After obtaining ethical approval and written informed consent, 25 postoperative patients were asked to quantify their level of pain on a numeric rating scale (NRS, 0-10) at different time points in the recovery room. As a parameter of SC, the number of fluctuations within the mean SC per second (NFSC) was recorded. Simultaneously, the NRS was obtained from patients by a different observer who was blinded to the NFSC values.Results. Data from 110 readings of 25 patients (14 female, 11 male; 21-67 yr) were included. NFSC showed a significant correlation with the NRS (r=0.625; P < 0.01), whereas heart rate and blood pressure showed no or very weak correlation with the NRS. NFSC was significantly different between patients with no (NRS=0), mild (NRS=1-3), moderate (NRS=4-5) and severe (NRS=6-10) pain (no: 0.047, mild: 0.089, moderate: 0.242, severe: 0.263; P < 0.0001). Post hoc, a cut-off value for NFSC (0.1) was calculated above which a pain score > 3 on the NRS was predicted with sensitivity of 89% and specificity of 74%.Conclusions. The severity of postoperative pain significantly influences SC. Using cut-off values, NFSC may prove a useful tool for pain assessment in the postoperative period.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)862-865
    JournalBritish Journal of Anaesthesia
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - 2006


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