A literature review published in the September issue of Anesthesiology suggests that there is currently insufficient evidence to support the clinical use of antidepressants for the treatment of postoperative pain. Although a majority of studies report positive outcomes, the authors write that these contain significant research limitations, indicating the need for more definitive clinical trials of antidepressants for postsurgical pain.
Surgical patients frequently experience chronic postoperative pain many months or even years after their original surgery. The need for improved treatment options in the management of postoperative pain is well established, and antidepressants could potentially be a valuable addition to the armamentarium; however a better understanding of the risk-benefit ratio of this option is needed, since these drugs can be associated with serious adverse effects in the time around surgery. A news story about the findings may be read here.