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Patient-controlled epidural analgesia provides better analgesia than intravenous patient-controlled analgesia for patients following thoracotomy
Sanjay Kumar, Tarun K. Lahiri.
Institute of Medical Sciences, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, India.

OBJECTIVE: Intravenous patient-controlled analgesia (IVPCA) and patient-controlled epidural analgesia (PCEA) were studied in terms of analgesic efficacy, respiratory function and side effects after thoracic surgery for 24h. PCEA using fentanyl and bupivacaine as compared to IVPCA using morphine provides better pain relief both at rest and during coughing and is associated with fewer side effects. This study compares IVPCA and PCEA in terms of analgesic efficacy, respiratory function and side effects after thoracic surgery.
METHODS: Thirty ASA-I or II patients undergoing thoracotomy were assigned randomly to receive either IVPCA using morphine or PCEA using fentanyl and bupivacaine combination postoperatively. No background infusion was administered in either group. Postoperative evaluation included pain intensity both at rest and during coughing, degree of sedation, arterial blood gas, forced vital capacity (FVC), peak expiratory flow rate (PEFR), presence of side effects such as nausea/vomiting and pruritus at 0, 2, 8, 12 and 24h. The primary outcome of the study was the percentage of patients with analgesia failure defined as VAS>30 despite three consecutive PCA boluses requiring rescue analgesia with intravenous fentanyl. The data were analyzed using t -test, chi square test and Mann-Whitney test.
RESULTS: Significantly less number of patients required rescue analgesia in PCEA group ( P< 0.05). Pain relief was better both at rest and during coughing ( P< 0.05) in PCEA group as compared to IVPCA. Patients in the PCEA group were less sedated and had fewer incidences of side effects, i.e. nausea/vomiting and pruritus. Postoperative FVC and PEFR were reduced significantly compared to baseline only in IVPCA group ( P< 0.05).
CONCLUSIONS: After thoracotomy, PCEA using fentanyl and bupivacaine as compared to IVPCA using morphine provides better pain relief both at rest and during coughing and associated with fewer side effects.


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