The researchers determined if thoracic epidural analgesia is of practical benefit after bowel resection.
They reported their results in the December issue of the American Journal of Surgery.
Patients were prospectively randomized to receive either a thoracic epidural or patient-controlled analgesia for pain control after bowel resection.
A standardized postoperative protocol was instituted after surgery.
The investigators found that pain scores were significantly lower in the epidural group.
| Cost and complication rates significantly higher in epidural group.
| American Journal of Surgery |
However, return of bowel function, and interval to discharge was not different between groups.
Cost and complication rates were found to be significantly higher in the epidural group.
Dr E. K. Paulsen, of the University of Kansas School of Medicine-Wichita, said on behalf of fellow authors, "Although pain scores were significantly lower in the epidural group, this did not translate into a quicker return of bowel function or earlier discharge of the patient.
"Furthermore, the epidural group had a significantly higher complication rate and cost."
"Therefore, while thoracic epidural analgesia provides superior pain control, it does not offer a significant advantage over patient-controlled analgesia in return of bowel function after bowel resection," it was concluded.