Original Report| Volume 12, ISSUE 2, P246-256, February 2011

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Radiotelemetric and Symptomatic Evaluation of Pain in the Rat After Laparotomy: Long-Term Benefits of Perioperative Ropivacaine Care

  • Alexandre Charlet
    Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Institut des Neurosciences Cellulaires et Intégratives, Unité Propre de Recherche 3212, Nociception and Pain Department, Strasbourg, France
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  • Jean-Luc Rodeau
    Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Institut des Neurosciences Cellulaires et Intégratives, Unité Propre de Recherche 3212, Nociception and Pain Department, Strasbourg, France
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  • Pierrick Poisbeau
    Address reprint requests to Prof. Pierrick Poisbeau, UPR 3212 CNRS, Départment Nociception et Douleur, 21 rue René Descartes, 67084 Strasbourg, France.
    Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Institut des Neurosciences Cellulaires et Intégratives, Unité Propre de Recherche 3212, Nociception and Pain Department, Strasbourg, France

    Université de Strasbourg, Strasbourg, France
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Published:September 15, 2010DOI:


      Effective relief of acute and long-term postoperative pain is of utmost importance to patients undergoing surgery. Here, we worked on a controlled procedure of abdominal surgery in the rat inducing persistent postoperative pain symptoms for up to 10 days and tested the efficacy of perioperative care with the local anesthetic ropivacaine. Laparotomy was likewise used to implant radiotelemetric probes by which electrocardiogram, body temperature, and locomotor activity were recorded in freely moving animals. We showed that postoperative pain symptoms (mechanical allodynia) measured in periphery of the scar were associated over time with persistent tachycardia, elevated heart rate variability, and loss of mobility. Furthermore, a single subcutaneous infiltration of the local anesthetic ropivacaine in the periphery of the abdominal incision was sufficient to prevent the appearance of allodynia and the associated cardiac and motor signs of pain, monitored by radiotelemetry. These beneficial effects were observed when the infiltration was performed in the perioperative period, but not later. This study on freely moving animals exhibiting long-lasting postoperative pain symptoms and altered autonomic/motor function illustrates well the importance of the timing of preemptive analgesia care with long-acting local anesthetics. Moreover, it emphasizes the utility of monitoring heart rate variability to quantify spontaneous expression of long-lasting postoperative pain.


      Speeding the recovery time after surgery using perioperative ropivacaine care is of significant clinical relevance because it might limit the risk of chronic pain and postoperative complications. In humans, chronobiological analysis of heart rate variability could also help quantify spontaneous pain expression with minimal emotional bias.

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