Background & Aims: Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) develops after bacterial enteritis that causes injury to the bowel mucosa. It's unclear whether abdominal pain or IBS results from gynecological surgery that could injure abdominopelvic nerves. The aim of this prospective, controlled study was to assess the incidence of pain or IBS in women undergoing elective gynecological surgery compared to non-surgical controls and to identify factors associated with their development. Methods: One hundred thirty-two women without GI symptoms undergoing elective gynecological surgery for non-painful conditions were compared with 123 non-surgery controls without GI symptoms. Socio-demographic, psychosocial, and surgery-related variables were potential predictor variables of pain at 3 and/or 12 months. Results: Three surgical patients (2.7%), but no controls, developed IBS at 12 months. Significantly more surgical patients had abdominal pain at 3 or 12 months (15.3% vs 3.6%, P=.003). No socio-demographic or surgery-related variables predicted pain development, but it was predicted by psychosocial factors including anticipation of difficult recovery from surgery (P=.01), perception of severity/constancy of illness (P=.04), and reduced sense of coherence (P=.01). Conclusions: Among women undergoing gynecological for non-pain indications the development of IBS was not significantly greater than controls. However, abdominal pain did develop in 17% of women in the surgical group, suggesting that surgery facilitated its development. Notably, only psychosocial variables predicted pain development, implying that pain development associated with central registration and amplification of the afferent signal (via cognitive and emotional input) must be considered along with the peripheral injury itself. These findings contribute to understanding the pathophysiology of functional GI pain.
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