Epidural anesthesia is used to improve pain control after major surgeries. Few data describe the impact of epidural use for bladder cancer patients treated with radical cystectomy (RC). Here, we evaluate epidural use on perioperative and long-term outcomes for patients treated with radical cystectomy for bladder cancer. Patients who received radical cystectomy for non-metastatic bladder urothelial carcinoma with epidural (n=1,748) and without epidural (n=6,109) anesthesia from 2002-2014 were identified using Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results-Medicare data. Radical cystectomy outcomes with and without epidural anesthesia were compared using propensity score weighting. Epidural use at time of radical cystectomy was identified in 1,748 (22.2%) of 7,857 patients who met inclusion criteria. After propensity score weighted adjustment, epidural use was associated with increased 30-day readmission (29.6% vs. 26.2%, P<0.001), increased median length of stay in days (9.0, IQR 7.0-12.0 vs 8.0, IQR 6.0-12.0, P<0.01), and decreased likelihood of being discharged directly to home without need for home health or skilled nursing care (21.6% vs 29.1%, P<0.001). Post-operative MI (2.6% vs 1.3%, P<0.001) in the first 30 days after radical cystectomy was more common in the epidural group, but perioperative 30-day mortality was similar (3.3% vs 2.9%, P=0.21). Epidural use was not associated with increased cancer specific (HR 0.96, 0.90-1.02, P=0.20) or overall survival (HR 0.99, 0.95-1.04, P=0.73). Epidural use at time of radical cystectomy is associated with increased risk of perioperative complications, hospital readmission, and longer hospitalization without improving disease specific survival. Prospective studies are needed to confirm these findings.
Keywords: Bladder cancer; epidural anesthesia; radical cystectomy.
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