Background: The primary hypothesis for this study was that epidural analgesia reduces the use of opioids and thus advances bowel function and oral intake and shortens hospital stay after laparoscopic sigmoidectomy performed according to principles of enhanced recovery after surgery.
Methods: For this study, 60 patients with complicated diverticular disease were randomized to the epidural anesthesia group or the control group before surgery. Postoperative oxycodone consumption, pain, and recovery parameters were followed for 14 days.
Results: The epidural group needed less oxycodone than the control group until 12 h postoperatively. They experienced significantly less pain related to coughing and motion until postoperative day 2. In the epidural group, fewer patients experienced significant pain, and the duration of postoperative pain was shorter. Postoperative oral intake, bowel function, hospital stay, and overall complication rate were similar in the two groups. However, the control group had more postoperative hematomas.
Conclusions: Epidural analgesia significantly alleviates pain, reducing the need for opioids during the first 48 h after laparoscopic sigmoidectomy. However, epidural analgesia does not alter postoperative oral intake, mobilization, or length of hospital stay.