Background: Surgery for bone malignancy is associated with intense postoperative pain. Patient-controlled epidural analgesia (PCEA) and intravenous patient-controlled analgesia (IV-PCA) are used currently for postoperative pain control.
Methods: The degree of pain control after resection of bone malignancy under combined general and epidural anesthesia followed postoperatively by prospectively randomized PCEA (ropivacaine 3.2 mg + fentanyl 8 microg/dose) or IV-PCA (morphine 2 mg/dose) (n = 35/group) was assessed. Postoperative analgesia delivery continued for up to 96 h; intramuscular rescue with diclofenac 75 mg was also available.
Results: The mean hourly pain score among the PCEA patients was 3.0 +/- 0.9, compared with 4. 7 +/- 0.6 (P < .01) among the IV-PCA patients. All mean hourly pain scores in the PCEA patients, except for the first 2 hours of treatment, were less than 4/10, but they were higher in the IV-PCA patients. The demand for diclofenac was 2 times (n = 10) lower for the PCEA patients, compared with their IV counterparts (n = 20, P < .01); the same difference applied to the overall side effects (n = 15 vs n = 30, P < .01). Self-rated wakefulness and feelings of well-being were better in the PCEA patients.
Conclusions: Postoperative ropivacaine + fentanyl via PCEA reduces pain better and affords better subjective feelings than IV morphine via PCA after resection of bone malignancy carried out under combined general and epidural anesthesia.