Anesthesiologist-Led Virtual Pain Management Model May Reduce Postoperative Pain, Nausea

A virtual pain unit model was effective in reducing the incidence of postoperative pain, dizziness, nausea, and vomiting.

A virtual pain unit (VPU) model was associated with decreased rates of postoperative pain, nausea, and dizziness, according to a retrospective study published in Pain and Therapy.

Researchers identified 21,281 patients who underwent surgery at the Zhengzhou Central Hospital between 2020 and 2021 for inclusion in the study.

The patients were evaluated for incidence of moderate to severe postoperative pain (MSPP) and adverse events. Outcomes were compared between patients who received standard acute pain service (APS; n=10,494) in 2020 or VPU (n=10,787) in 2021. The MSPP outcome was defined as a numeric rating scale (NRS) score of 5 or higher.

The most common surgical indications were gynecologic, ear nose throat, obstetrics, orthopedic, and urology.

Fewer VPU recipients reported MSPP (9.79% vs 28.03%), postoperative nausea and vomiting (9.38% vs 17.19%), and dizziness (7.12% vs 13.41%) compared with the APS group, respectively.

…this new model is a promising solution for acute pain management among postoperative patients.

Overall, VPU reduced MSPP by 65.07%, postoperative nausea and vomiting by 45.43%, and dizziness by 46.91% compared with standard pain management.

No group differences were identified in the average length of stay (mean, 4.7-5.1 days; P >.05) or per-capita hospitalization costs (mean, $2422-$2563; P >.05); however, the APS intervention was associated with fewer per-capita clinician rounds (mean, 2 vs 5; P <.001) and lower per-capita opioid consumption rate (mean morphine equivalents, 116.5 vs 142.6; P <.05) compared with VPU, respectively.

The limitations of this study included its single center, retrospective design.

The study authors concluded, “This study demonstrated the viability and efficacy of VPU model in reducing the incidence of moderate to severe postoperative pain, nausea, vomiting, and dizziness, compared with APS. Therefore, this new model is a promising solution for acute pain management among postoperative patients.”

This article originally appeared on Clinical Pain Advisor


Yang G, Zuo S, Wang P, et al. Virtual pain unit is associated with improvement of postoperative analgesia quality: a retrospective single-center clinical study. Pain Ther. Published online May 18, 2023. doi:10.1007/s40122-023-00518-w