A systematic review of postoperative analgesia following laparoscopic colorectal surgery

Colorectal Dis. 2010 Jan;12(1):5-15. doi: 10.1111/j.1463-1318.2009.01799.x.


Objective: The use of epidural analgesia is considered fundamental in Enhanced Recovery Protocols. However its value in the perioperative management of laparoscopic colorectal surgical patients is unclear and analgesic regimens vary. The aim of this systematic review was to examine the effects of various analgesic regimes on outcomes following laparoscopic colectomy.

Method: A systematic review of studies assessing analgesic regimes following laparoscopic colorectal resection was performed. The primary outcome of interest was length of hospital stay whilst the secondary outcomes included pain, time to tolerate a normal diet, return of bowel function and postoperative complications.

Results: Eight studies were identified, five of which compared epidural vs patient controlled analgesia/intra-venous morphine. There were no significant differences between the groups in terms of outcomes, except pain control which was superior in the epidural group. Spinal anaesthesia using intrathecal morphine in addition to local anaesthetic, and the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents have also been shown to reduce postoperative pain.

Conclusion: There is a paucity of data assessing the benefits of postoperative analgesic regimes following laparoscopic colorectal surgery and none of the protocols were shown to be clearly superior. Further studies, including the assessment of spinal analgesia are required to determine the most appropriate analgesic regime following laparoscopic colorectal surgery.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Analgesia, Epidural
  • Analgesics / therapeutic use*
  • Analgesics, Opioid / therapeutic use
  • Colon / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Laparoscopy*
  • Length of Stay
  • Postoperative Care / methods*
  • Recovery of Function
  • Rectum / surgery*


  • Analgesics
  • Analgesics, Opioid