Background: Incidence of chronic postoperative neurogenic pain after open and laparoscopic trunk operations is reported between 1 and 20 percent, rendering a large population in the United States and worldwide. One possible treatment is selective surgical neurectomy. Methods: All patients who underwent neurectomy for chronic trunk or groin postoperative neurogenic pain were identified. Based on individual history and examination, patients underwent neurectomies of the ilioinguinal, iliohypogastric, genitofemoral, lateral-femoral cutaneous, or intercostal nerves. Recorded preoperative pain levels (Likert score ranging from 0 to 10) were compared to postoperative pain levels and quality-of-life indices were assessed. Results: Fifty-six patients (32 men and 24 women) were included. Mean age was 49 years. All patients underwent preoperative nerve blocks by either surgeon, radiologist, or referring physician, and had either complete or significant response defined as over 50 percent relief. Forty-five patients completed the survey. Median follow-up was 2.8 years (range, 1.0 to 5.7 years). Average pain level was 9.0 preoperatively and 3.5 postoperatively. Quality-of-life impairment improved from 8.3 preoperatively to 3.5 postoperatively. A subset of patients (n = 12) had minimal improvement, reporting a decrease in pain from 8.5 to 7.2 and quality-of-life improvement from 8.5 to 7.1. Conclusions: Complete avoidance of nerve injury during all trunk and groin operations is likely unattainable. When chronic postoperative neurogenic pain develops, neurectomy can be an effective means of treatment, significantly improving pain and quality of life in most patients. Better insight is necessary into a patient subset responding to nerve blocks yet experiencing minimal postoperative improvement.
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