Scientists at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine has developed a new method for measuring pediatric pain levels using novel facial pattern recognition software.
The researchers used the software to analyze pain-related facial expressions from video taken of 50 youths, ages five to 18 years old, who had undergone laparoscopic appendectomies at Rady Children's Hospital-San Diego. Based on the analysis, along with clinical data input by the study team, the software provided pain level scores for each participant.
Researchers claim that the current methods by which we analyze pain in kids are suboptimal.
"In this study, we developed and tested a new instrument, which allowed us to automatically assess pain in children in a clinical setting. We believe this technology, which enables continuous pain monitoring, can lead to better and more timely pain management," said senior author Jeannie Huang, MD, MPH, a professor in the UC San Diego School of Medicine Department of Pediatrics and a gastroenterologist at Rady Children's Hospital-San Diego.
Huang said controlling pain is important, not only for the child's comfort, but also for recovery. But, several issues, particularly age-related communication difficulties, make existing pediatric pain assessment methods problematic, said Huang.
"The current gold standard for measuring pain is self-reporting. But in pediatrics there is a limited population of kids who can answer that question in a meaningful way," she noted.
The study was published online June 1 in the journal Pediatrics.