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The effect of epidural analgesia on postoperative outcome after colorectal surgery

Gendall KA, Kennedy RR, Watson A & Frizelle FA (2007) The effect of epidural analgesia on postoperative outcome after colorectal surgery. Colorectal Disease, 9 (7), pp. 584-598.

Objective: The aim of this review was to determine the effects of epidural analgesia as it relates to outcome after colorectal surgery. Method: We searched and reviewed studies that included colorectal surgery and epidural method of analgesia listed on the Pubmed, Medline, Embase and the Cochrane library database. Results: The majority of data demonstrate a superior effect of epidural analgesia on pain control after colorectal surgery. Well designed randomized controlled trials (RCT's) have also shown that epidural analgesia reduces the duration of ileus after colorectal surgery. Limited data suggest the additional benefit may be minimal after laparoscopic surgery or when epidural analgesia is used as part of a multimodal regime. Data does not convincingly show either a clear harmful or beneficial effect of epidural analgesia on rates of anastomotic leakage. Epidural analgesia may have beneficial effects on postoperative lung function, however due to low numbers, the effects on cardiovascular and thromboembolic complications are indeterminate. Length of hospital stay has not been shown to be shortened by sole use of an epidural and, although epidural analgesia may be apparently more costly, alternatives may incur higher indirect costs and decreased patient satisfaction. Conclusion: Randomized controlled trials have shown a benefit for epidurals on postoperative pain relief, and ileus, and possibly respiratory complications. There is no proven benefit with regard to length of stay. There are a number of unresolved issues which further focussed RCT's may help clarify such as effects of epidural on complication rates after colorectal surgery.

colorectal surgery; epidural; analgesia; outcome

Colorectal Disease: Volume 9, Issue 7

Author(s)Gendall, Kelly A; Kennedy, Robert R; Watson, Angus; Frizelle, Frank A
Publication date07/09/2007
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