Author(s): Gottschalk A, Freitag M, Tank S, Burmeister MA, Kreil S
BACKGROUND: Major spinal surgery is associated with high postoperative pain scores and opioid requirement. The aim of the current prospective, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study was to assess the reduction of opioid requirement and pain scores using an intraoperatively placed epidural catheter with infusion of 0.1% ropivacaine during the postoperative period.
METHODS: Thirty patients undergoing major lumbar spinal surgery from a dorsal approach were included in this study. Before wound closure, the orthopedic surgeon inserted an epidural catheter. Postoperatively, patients were randomly assigned to receive an infusion of 12 ml/h ropivacaine, 0.1% (group R), or 12 ml/h saline (group N) after an initial bolus of 10 ml of the respective study solution. Additional pain relief was provided using an intravenous patient-controlled analgesia pump with the opioid piritramide. Patients were assessed with respect to pain scores (visual analog scale of 0-100), cumulative opioid requirement, side effects, and satisfaction with pain management.
RESULTS: : Demographic data, duration of surgery, and type of surgery were comparable between groups. Pain scores were assessed as follows (group R vs. group N: 6 h: 24 +/-20 vs. 51 +/- 20, P = 0.002; 24 h: 33 +/- 19 vs. 53 +/- 27, P = 0.04; 48 h: 21 +/-17 vs. 40 +/- 26, P = 0.04; 72 h: 14 +/- 13 vs. 38 +/- 25, P = 0.02). The cumulative piritramide requirement after 72 h was 97 +/- 23 mg in group R and 157 +/-72 mg in group N (P = 0.03). The incidence of side effects was comparable between groups, and patient satisfaction was always higher in group R (P < 0.05).
CONCLUSION: Continuous epidural infusion of 0.1% ropivacaine results in lower pain scores and opioid consumption and higher patient satisfaction when compared with placebo. Application of ropivacaine using an epidural catheter seems to be a highly effective treatment for postoperative pain after major lumbar spinal surgery.