Use of rectus sheath catheters for pain relief in patients undergoing major pelvic urological surgery

BJU Int. 2014 Feb;113(2):246-53. doi: 10.1111/bju.12316. Epub 2013 Aug 13.


Objective: To report on the safety and efficacy of rectus sheath blocks, 'topped-up' using bilateral rectus sheath catheters (RSCs), in patients undergoing major open urological surgery.

Methods: The RSCs were inserted under ultrasound guidance into 200 patients between April 2008 and August 2011, of whom 106 patients underwent radical retropubic prostatectomy (RRP) and 94 underwent open radical cystectomy (ORC). A retrospective case-note review was undertaken. Outcomes included technical success and complication rates of the insertion and use of RSC, visual analogue pain scores, additional analgesia requirements and length of hospital stay (LOS).

Results: All RSCs were successfully placed without complication and used for a mean of 3.6 days for ORC and 2.1 days for RRP. Early removal occurred in 6.49% of patients. Low overall pain scores were reported in both groups. Patients were more likely to require a patient-controlled analgesia system in the ORC group but the overall need for additional analgesia was low in both groups, reducing significantly after the initial 24 h. In combination with an enhanced recovery programme, LOS reduced from 17.0 to 10.8 days in the ORC group and from 6.2 to 2.8 days in the RRP group.

Conclusion: The use of RSCs appears to offer an effective and safe method of peri-operative analgesia in patients undergoing major open urological pelvic surgery.

Keywords: analgesia; open pelvic surgery; rectus sheath catheters.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Abdomen / surgery
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Analgesia / methods*
  • Catheters
  • Cystectomy / methods*
  • Drug Delivery Systems
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medical Records
  • Middle Aged
  • Nerve Block / methods*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Pain, Postoperative / drug therapy*
  • Prostatectomy / methods*
  • Rectus Abdominis / diagnostic imaging
  • Rectus Abdominis / innervation*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Ultrasonography, Interventional / methods*
  • Visual Analog Scale