Benefits of thoracic epidural analgesia in patients undergoing an open posterior component separation for abdominal herniorrhaphy
Sellers, Austin Robert
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INTRODUCTION: The implementation of open posterior component separation (PCS) surgery has led to improved outcomes for complex hernias. While the PCS technique has been shown to decrease recurrence rates, and provide a feasible option to repair hernias in nontraditional locations, there is still significant postoperative pain associated with the laparotomy and extensive abdominal wall manipulation. Systemic opioids and thoracic epidural analgesia (TEA) are both commonly utilized, either together or independently, as postoperative analgesic regimens. The benefits of TEA have been studied following a variety of surgeries, however to date no study has been performed to investigate its efficacy in this particular surgery. The aim of this study is to evaluate the benefits of TEA following open PCS. We hypothesized that the incorporation of TEA in a patients postoperative analgesic regimen would show an advantage in time to bowel recovery. METHODS: An electronic medical record query was done to identify patients who had undergone an open PCS. Once this list was compiled, a retrospective chart review was performed and patients receiving TEA (either alone or combined with systemic opioids) were compared to patients receiving only systemic opioids. The primary endpoint compared time to resumption of a full diet, given by the patients postoperative day (POD). Secondarily, time to resumption of a liquid diet, postoperative length of stay (LOS), intensive care unit (ICU) admission rate, ICU LOS, and rates of several postoperative complications were all recorded and compared. A post-hoc analysis was also performed using the same endpoints. This analysis compared cohorts of patients receiving TEA and avoiding all systemic opioids, to patients who received systemic opioids (whether alone or combined with TEA). RESULTS: Based on inclusion parameters, 101 patients met criteria for analysis. In the initial analysis, 62 patients received TEA with or without systemic opioids, and 39 patients received only systemic opioids. In comparing these groups, there was no statistically significant difference in time to full diet (TEA 2.6 ± 1.7 vs Systemic opioids 3.1 ± 2.1 [mean POD ± SD]; P=0.21). In addition, no differences were found in the secondary outcomes of time to liquid diet, ICU admission, ICU LOS, or postoperative complications. In the post-hoc analysis, the 37 patients that received only TEA, were compared against 64 patients that received systemic opioids (either with or without TEA). In this comparison, the group receiving only TEA was found to have a statically shorter time to bowel recovery compared to patients receiving systemic opioids (TEA alone 2.2 ± 1.0 vs Systemic opioids 3.2 ± 2.2, P=0.0033). This subgroup (TEA only) also showed statically shorter time to liquid diet and a decreased postoperative LOS. CONCLUSION: For patients undergoing an open PCS, the inclusion of TEA in the postoperative analgesic regimen did not shorten return of bowel function. However, when TEA was utilized and systemic opioids were avoided, time to bowel recovery and hospital LOS were both significantly shortened.