Chronic postsurgical pain in the evaluation of nitrous oxide in the gas mixture for anaesthesia (ENIGMA)-II trial

M. T. V. Chan, P. J. Peyton, P. S. Myles, K. Leslie, N. Buckley, J. Kasza, M. J. Paech, W. S. Beattie, D. I. Sessler, Andrew Benjamin Forbes, S. Wallace, Y. Chen, Y. Tian, W. K. K. Wu, Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists Clinical Trials Network for the ENIGMA-II investigators

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Background. Previous animal and clinical studies showed that nitrous oxide may produce long-termanalgesia. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of nitrous oxide in preventing chronic postsurgical pain. We also explored whether methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase gene polymorphisms (1298A>C, 667C>T) would enhance nitrous oxide analgesia. Methods. We conducted a telephone interview at 12 months after surgery on 2924 (41.1%) patients enrolled in the Evaluation of Nitrous Oxide in the Gas Mixture for Anaesthesia-II trial. Pain at the wound site was recorded using the modified brief pain inventory and the neuropathic pain questionnaire. General health status was measured using the EQ-5D questionnaire. Genotyping was performed in a subset of 674 Asian patients in Hong Kong. Results. At 12 months after surgery, 356 (12.2%) patients reported chronic postsurgical pain at the wound site and 112 (3.8%) patients had severe pain and required regular analgesic interventions. Nitrous oxide did not affect the rate of chronic postsurgical pain (11.8% nitrous oxide group; 12.5% no nitrous oxide group), relative risk (95% confidence intervals): 0.94 (0.75- 1.17), P=0.57. However, in a planned subgroup analysis, nitrous oxide reduced the risk of chronic postsurgical pain in Asian patients, relative risk (95% confidence intervals): 0.70 (0.50-0.98), P=0.031. Patients who were homozygous for either gene polymorphismand who received nitrous oxide during surgery were less likely to report chronic postsurgical pain. Conclusions. Nitrous oxide administration had no impact on chronic postsurgical pain, but benefits may still be possible in Asian patients and patients with variants in methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase gene.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)801-811
Number of pages11
JournalBritish Journal of Anaesthesia
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 12 Dec 2016


  • cHROnic pain
  • Nitrous oxide
  • Polymorphism
  • Single nucleotide
  • Surgery

Cite this