Thoracic epidural analgesia vs. intravenous analgesia after lung transplant

Enten G, Puri S, Patel K, Stachura Z, Schwaiger E, Patel P, Melloni G, Enrico M Camporesi


Objective: Few reports have evaluated postoperative continuous thoracic epidural analgesia on patients who received a lung transplant. This analgesic modality may facilitate extubation, early ambulation, and achieve adequate pain control with minimization of opioid use. An opioid sparing technique could minimize the side effects of opioids such as ileus, constipation, and somnolence.
Methods: A retrospective chart review following local IRB approval was performed. A total of 97 patients’ charts were collected, from April 2015 to March 2017. Forty-eight patients received T6-7 epidural, and forty-nine patients received standard intravenous (IV) analgesia. Outcome measures collected included length of intensive care unit stay, total duration of hospitalization, need for reintubation or noninvasive intermittent positive pressure ventilation (NIPPV), need for IV lidocaine gtt, and total narcotics consumption during hospitalization in milligrams of morphine equivalents (MME).
Results: Both groups were comparable in age, BMI, and race/gender distribution. Additionally, patient pain requirements were comparable between groups. However, a significantly smaller proportion of thoracic epidural patients required NIPPV post-operatively, (20.4%, 53.2%: p = .0015). Further, the number of patients requiring reintubation was almost halved, (12.5%, 21.3%: NS). Patients receiving thoracic epidural also experienced shorter ICU times (p = .0335) and on average, an overall reduced length of stay by six days.
Conclusions: For patients undergoing lung transplant, epidural analgesia is a viable alternative to IV pain control. Further, it significantly reduced respiratory depression and length of stay in the ICU. More refined comparisons can be made by conducting a precise prospective study with a more structured protocol in place.

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Case Studies in Surgery  ISSN 2377-7311(Print)  ISSN 2377-732X(Online)

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