Effect of applying cold gel pack on the pain associated with deep breathing and coughing after open heart surgery

HamidReza Khalkhali, Zahra Ebrahimi Rigi Tanha, Aram Feizi, Shahyad Salehi Ardabili



Background: Coughing and deep breathing after sternotomy causes severe pain. This study was conducted to assess the effect of cold therapy on the pain in patients undergoing open heart surgery.

Materials and Methods: In a randomized controlled trial (RCT) with crossover design, 50 eligible and consenting patients were recruited and randomly allocated to gel pack and non-gel pack groups on the first postoperative day. All patients performed four episodes of deep breathing and coughing (DB and C) every 2 h. Pain intensity was measured and compared at rest and after DB and C in both groups. At the end of the study, all patients were asked about their preferences for the cold gel pack application prior to DB and C. The study hypotheses were analyzed using repeated measures analysis of variance (RM-ANOVA).

Results: Data analysis showed significant reduction in pain scores (P < 0.001) after cold gel application. Forty-five (90%) patients were inclined to reapply the gel pack in the future.

Conclusion: Cold gel pack can reduce the pain associated with DB and C in cardiac surgery patients.

Key words: Cold gel pack, deep breathing and coughing, open heart surgery, pain


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