Background and objective Laparoscopic and open surgery have been compared with conflicting results regarding their systemic responses. The sensitivity of biochemical markers that are used to discriminate between the stress responses to different types of surgery varies from study to study. We wanted to evaluate the stress response and the sensitivity of clinical and biochemical stress markers in patients undergoing laparoscopically assisted vaginal or abdominal hysterectomy.
Methods We performed a case-control study with patients undergoing laparoscopically assisted vaginal hysterectomy (n=20) or abdominal hysterectomy (n=20). Pain scores were assessed at rest and during coughing, and active leg elevation and fatigue scores using a visual analogue scale. In 10 patients of each group, haematocrit, white cell count, C-reactive protein, glucose, cortisol, adrenocorticotrophic hormone, β-endorphin immunoreactivity, interleukin-6 and urine excretion of epinephrine and norepinephrine were measured preoperatively and during the first 44 postoperative hours.
Results The most sensitive symptoms and markers of the systemic response were pain scores during mobilization, fatigue scores, C-reactive protein and interleukin-6 (P < 0.01 in all comparisons). Pain scores at rest, and all other laboratory markers of the systemic response, did not discriminate between the two types of surgery.
Conclusion Follow-up of postoperative pain scores during mobilization and fatigue levels might be an easy tool for the evaluation of postoperative recovery. Using an identical anaesthetic technique, the neuroendocrine response was of the same magnitude after both types of surgery.