Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Pharmacology & Toxicology

First Advisor

Imad M Damaj


Greater than 320 million surgeries are performed annually worldwide. About 80% experience acute postoperative pain (Gan, 2017), and 20% of patients experience severe pain within the first 24 hours post-surgery (Small and Laycock, 2020). Yet, this common problem lacks an uncomplicated, effective, and inexpensive treatment (Kehlet, 1994). Undertreated pain can lead to prolonged hospitalization, delayed wound healing, psychological impairments, and increased healthcare costs (Mitra et al., 2018). Large population-based studies have suggested a link between increased alcohol use and reduced pain; however, chronic or excessive alcohol use potentiates the risk of developing alcohol dependence, neuropathy, and hyperalgesia in withdrawal.

The overall goal of this thesis is to use animal models to explore the impact of acute postoperative pain on alcohol intake which may lead to a better understanding of the management of postoperative pain. To achieve this, we characterized the timeline of onset and recovery of laparotomy by finding a significant reduction in spontaneous behaviors and an increase in abdominal mechanical sensitivity. Next, we saw that laparotomy surgery increased alcohol intake and preference in male mice but not females in 2-bottle choice and 3-bottle choice assays. The ketoprofen results suggest that pain plays an important role in the escalation of alcohol intake after surgery in male mice. Additionally, from the loss of righting reflex findings, we found that changes in alcohol initial sensitivity and acute functional tolerance may modulate the impact of surgical pain on alcohol consumption in both sexes.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission


Available for download on Wednesday, May 10, 2028