Background: We compared the effects of thoracic epidural analgesia (TEA) to conventional patient-controlled analgesia (PCA) on several postoperative parameters of recovery after elective video-assisted thoracoscopic (VATS) lobectomy.
Methods: Ninety-eight patients undergoing elective VATS lobectomy were enrolled. The primary endpoint was pain score. Recovery of bowel function, length of stay in the postanesthesia care unit (PACU), duration of postoperative hospital stay, and complications were assessed. Continuous variables were expressed and compared between groups using either a two-tailed Student's t or Mann-Whitney U test. Recovery of bowel function was compared using the log-rank test.
Results: Baseline characteristics between the groups were similar. Dynamic pain scores on postoperative days (PODs) 0-2 were significantly lower in the TEA group, as were resting pain scores on PODs 1 and 2 (P < 0.05). The mean duration to first flatus (16 ± 0.7 vs. 26 ± 0.7 hours; P < 0.001) and the mean length of stay in the PACU (34 vs. 67 minutes; P = 0.027) were shorter in the TEA compared to the PCA group, respectively. The only difference in postoperative complications was regarding confusion (5 TEA vs. 18 PCA patients; P = 0.002). No difference in overall length of stay was noted.
Conclusions: Compared to PCA, TEA provided better postoperative pain control after VATS lobectomy and facilitated postoperative recovery of bowel function without increasing the length of hospital stay. This beneficial effect of TEA might be attributed to the attenuation of sympathetic hyperactivation, improved analgesia, and reduced opioid use.
Keywords: Bowel function; epidural analgesia; postoperative analgesia; video-assisted thoracoscopic lobectomy.
© 2018 The Authors. Thoracic Cancer published by China Lung Oncology Group and John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd.