The gut microbiome plays critical roles in human health and disease. Recent studies suggest it may also be associated with chronic pain and postoperative pain outcomes. In animal models, the composition of the gut microbiome changes after general anesthesia and affects the host response to medications, including anesthetics and opioids. In humans, the gut microbiome is associated with the development of postoperative pain and neurocognitive disorders. Additionally, the composition of the gut microbiome has been associated with pain conditions including visceral pain, nociplastic pain, complex regional pain syndrome, and headaches, partly through altered concentration of circulating bacterial-derived metabolites. Furthermore, animal studies demonstrate the critical role of the gut microbiome in neuropathic pain via immunomodulatory mechanisms. This article reviews basic concepts of the human gut microbiome and its interactions with the host and provide a comprehensive overview of the evidence linking the gut microbiome to anesthesiology, critical care, and pain medicine.

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