The influence of patient position on withdrawal force of thoracic epidural catheters*

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We investigated the forces required to remove thoracic epidural catheters to determine the effect of patient position on removal. Eighty-four patients undergoing open thoracotomy and thoracic patient-controlled epidural analgesia were enrolled. Catheterisation was performed under fluoroscopic guidance before surgery, and the patients were allocated to one of three position groups for removal: prone; sitting; and lateral. On the third postoperative day, the peak tension during withdrawal in the assigned position was measured. No differences in mean (SD) forces were found between groups: prone 1.61 (0.39) N, supine 1.62 (0.61) N and lateral 1.36 (0.56) N (p = 0.140). The withdrawal forces required to remove thoracic epidural catheters were not affected by the position. Thus, the position for removal can be determined by patient's choice and clinical judgement.

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