June 23, 2008 -- Certain general anesthesia drugs may increase postoperative pain, and scientists may have discovered how that happens.
Researchers at Georgetown University report that some general anesthesia drugs may activate pain receptors outside the brain and spinal cord, leading to greater postoperative pain.
The scientists studied those anesthesia drugs in test tubes and in mice and found that the drugs boosted activity in a pain receptor called TRPA1, which could lead to greater sensation of pain.
"The choice of anesthetic appears to be an important determinant of post-operative pain," Gerard Ahern, PhD, says in a news release. "We hope these findings are ultimately helpful in providing more comfort to patients."
The study appears in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.