Ambulatory Surgery Patients May Be Discharged before Voiding after Short-acting Spinal and Epidural Anesthesia


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Abstract

BackgroundVoiding before discharge is usually required after outpatient epidural or spinal anesthesia because of concern about bladder overdistention and dysfunction. Shorter duration spinal and epidural anesthesia may allow return of bladder function before overdistention occurs in low-risk patients (those younger than age 70, not having hernia, rectal, or urologic surgery, and without a history of voiding difficulty), and predischarge voiding may not be necessary.MethodsAfter institutional review board approval and informed consent, 201 low-risk ambulatory patients were prospectively studied in either a standard or accelerated pathway after undergoing spinal or epidural anesthesia with procaine, lidocaine, 2-chloroprocaine, or less than 7 mg bupivacaine; epinephrine was not used in any anesthetic. Standard pathway patients (n = 70) were required to void before discharge. Accelerated pathway (n = 131) patients were not required to void. (After randomization of an initial 163 patients to one of the two tracks, 38 additional patients were assigned to the accelerated pathway.) If accelerated pathway patients voided, they were discharged when all other discharge criteria were met. If they did not spontaneously void after block resolution, a bladder ultrasound (BUS) was performed. If the BUS indicated a urine volume of less than 400 ml, the patients were discharged and instructed to return to the emergency department if they were unable to void within 8 h of discharge. If the BUS indicated a urine volume of greater than 400 ml, the patients were reassessed in 1 h and were discharged if they could void spontaneously. If they could not void spontaneously, they were catheterized to facilitate discharge. All patients were contacted the next day to assess the return of normal bladder function.ResultsAll standard pathway patients voided without difficulty, and were discharged in 153 ± 49 (SD) min. 62 patients in the accelerated pathway voided spontaneously after resolution of their block and were discharged in 127 ± 41 min. 46 patients were discharged with a BUS less than 400 ml in 120 ± 42 min. 23 patients had a BUS greater than 400 ml: of these, 20 patients voided within an hour and were discharged in 162 ± 45 min. Three were catheterized after 1 h, and were discharged in 186 ± 61 min. Mean discharge time for all patients in the accelerated pathway was 22 min shorter than the standard pathway (P = 0.002). No patients had difficulty voiding or returned to the hospital for urinary problems. None reported new urologic symptoms.ConclusionsDelay of discharge after outpatient spinal or epidural anesthesia with short-duration drugs for low-risk procedures is not necessary, and may result in prolonged discharge times.

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