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Tomasz Stefaniak, Joanna Dziedziul, Anna Walerzak, Katarzyna Adamczyk, Derek Gill, Ad Vingerhoets, Dominika Babinska, Magdalena Trus, Andrzej Lachinski and Zbigniew Śledziński

Impact of Menthal Representation of Disease and Wound-Related Subjective Perception of Disease on Convalescence After Surgical Treatment

Compared to open surgery, laparoscopic treatment has been shown to have several advantages, including lower levels of postoperative pain, faster recovery, and better cosmetic results. Nevertheless, the advantages of laparoscopy are being debated as possibly not being merely related to biomedical factors.

Material and methods. The study consisted of two sub-studies. In the first study, 150 healthy, previously unoperated volunteers, not employed in the health services, were included. Healthy volunteers, from the latter study, were given questionnaires that presented different sizes of post-operative wounds and examined their perception of the severity of the illnesses that were treated by surgery leading to these wounds. In the second study, data was collected from 65 laparoscopic cholecystectomy patients and 35 patients treated by the open approach cholecystectomy. Patients from the second study were examined prior to operation and 1 month after surgery with a questionnaire evaluating their subjective perception of the disease.

Results. Subjective perception of the severity of disease (SPSD) was similar between the laparoscopy and the open approach cholecystectomy patients before the operation (respectively, 6.25±1.7 and 6.06±2.2; ns). At the follow-up, a significant decrease of SPSD among laparoscopy patients was observed (post-op score = 3.28±0.8, p<0.05 in paired t-Student test), but not in the open approach patients (6.42±1.7, ns in paired t-Student test). The volunteers perceived that the disease of the laparoscopically treated patients was less serious than the disease of those treated with open surgery.

Conclusions. The authors would like to emphasize that the study presents a new approach to the explanation of the so called "laparoscopy phenomenon", i.e. much faster and smoother recovery after relatively larger and more serious surgical procedures. We believe that the benefits observed among the videoscopy patients might be, apart from immunological and pain-related factors, attributed to the psychological influence of cognitive representations of the disease severity on pain, analgetics use, and recovery.