Description of Studies

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Literature search

  • Systematic review of the literature from 1966–May 2004 using MEDLINE and EmBASE, following the protocol of the Cochrane Collaboration (Thoracotomy search terms)
  • Inclusion of randomised studies in English assessing analgesic interventions in thoracotomy in adults, and reporting pain on a linear analogue scale
  • Identification of 332 studies of peri-operative interventions for postoperative pain following thoracotomy
  • 169 studies included (Thoracotomy included references)
  • 163 studies excluded (Thoracotomy excluded references)
  • The most common reason for exclusion was that the study was not a randomised, comparative clinical trial (60 studies). (Thoracotomy reasons for exclusion)
  • Where procedure-specific evidence regarding a particular intervention was lacking in the systematic review but relevant information was available from more recent studies, the additional information was added with a note that the publication date was after the defined cut-off date for the systematic review

Transferable evidence
This section includes studies and reviews from a variety of surgical procedures to address, where appropriate, information about analgesic efficacy and adverse effects of the available interventions, which are not covered in the systematic review.

Quality of studies
Despite the large number of studies included in the review, the methodological quality of the studies of analgesia for thoracotomy was found to be generally quite poor, and patient numbers were often small.