A Randomized Controlled Trial Comparing Epidural Analgesia Versus Continuous Local Anesthetic Infiltration Via Abdominal Wound Catheter in Open Liver Resection

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Aim:To compare outcomes following open liver resection (OLR) between patients receiving thoracic epidural (EP) versus abdominal wound catheters plus patient-controlled analgesia (AWC-PCA).Method:Patients were randomized 1:1 to either EP or AWC-PCA within an enhanced recovery protocol. Primary outcome was length of stay (LOS), other variables included functional recovery, pain scores, peak flow, vasopressor and fluid requirements, and postoperative complications.Results:Between April 2015 and November 2017, 83 patients were randomized to EP (n = 41) or AWC-PCA (n = 42). Baseline demographics were comparable. No difference was noted in LOS (EP 6 d (3–27) vs AWC-PCA 6 d (3–66), P = 0.886). Treatment failure was 20% in the EP group versus 7% in the AWC-PCA (P = 0.09). Preoperative anesthetic time was shorter in the AWC-PCA group, 49 minutes versus 62 minutes (P = 0.003). EP patients required more vasopressor support immediately postoperatively on day 0 (14% vs 54%, P = <0.001) and day 1 (5% vs 23%, P = 0.021). Pain scores were greater on day 0, afternoon of day 1 and morning of day 2 in the AWC-PCA group however were regarded as low at all time points. No other significant differences were noted in IV fluid requirements, nausea/sedation scores, days to open bowels, length of HDU, and postoperative complications.Conclusion:AWC-PCA was associated with reduced treatment failure and a reduced vasopressor requirement than EP up to 2 days postoperatively. While the use of AWC-PCA did not translate into a shorter LOS in this study, it simplified patient management after OLR. EP cannot be routinely recommended following open liver resections.

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