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A Journal on Anesthesiology, Resuscitation, Analgesia and Intensive Care
PERIOPERATIVE MEDICINE SMART 2002 Milan, May 29-31, 2002
Minerva Anestesiologica 2002 April;68(4):157-61
Effect of postoperative epidural analgesia on surgical outcome
Holte K., Kehlet H.
From the Department of Surgical Gastroenterology Hvidovre University Hospital, Denmark
Pain relief allowing sufficient mobilization after major surgical procedures can only be achieved by continuous epidural analgesia with local anesthetics, which also reduces the stress response to surgery. However, the role of postoperative epidural analgesia on postoperative morbidity is controversial. We therefore update the effects of postoperative analgesia on surgical outcome. After major abdominal surgery, postoperative epidural analgesia with local anesthetics significantly reduces postoperative ileus and pulmonary complications while effects on cardiac morbidity are debatable. Continuous epidural analgesia significantly lowers the risk of thromboembolic complications after lower body procedures, while no effect is seen after major abdominal surgery. Unfortunately, many studies have inadequate study design, with use of lumbar epidural analgesia for abdominal procedures, or the epidural regimen does not contain a sufficient amount of local anesthetics. Future evaluation of the effects of epidural analgesia on postoperative outcome also requires integration of epidural analgesia within a multimodal rehabilitation programme.