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Pain Med. 2013 Aug;14(8):1248-53. doi: 10.1111/pme.12128. Epub 2013 Apr 24.

The effects of thoracic epidurally administered drugs on urethral sphincter function in women: a pooled analysis.

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  • 1Department of Anaesthesiology and Pain Therapy, University Hospital Bern, Bern, Switzerland. patrick.wuethrich@insel.ch



Thoracic epidural analgesia (TEA) has been shown to inhibit detrusor activity in patients undergoing open renal surgery, resulting in clinically relevant post-void residuals. However, the impact of different epidural drug mixtures on urethral sphincter function is not completely elucidated.


Pooled analysis of an open observational study and a double-blind randomized trial.


Single tertiary centre.


Twenty-eight women without lower urinary tract symptoms and post-void residual <100 mL, who underwent open renal surgery with TEA.


Pooling results in three groups with different epidural regimens (7 with bupivacaine 0.125%, 8 with bupivacaine 0.125% and fentanyl 2 μg/mL, and 13 with bupivacaine 0.1% plus fentanyl 2 μg/mL and epinephrine 2 μg/mL). All women underwent urethral pressure measurements before TEA and during TEA 2-3 days postoperatively. All patients received a TEA placed at the insertion site interspace T 8-9.


Maximum urethral closure pressure at rest decreased significantly during TEA with bupivacaine alone (median 70 cm H2 O [interquartile range 66-76] to 43 [43-65], P = 0.031) and with bupivacaine/fentanyl/epinephrine (75 cm H2 O [68-78] to 56 [52-75], P = 0.028), whereas with bupivacaine/fentanyl, no significant change could be detected (74 [51-88] vs 67 [46-70], P = 0.156). In all groups, functional profile length at rest was not influenced during TEA.


TEA with bupivacaine and the addition of fentanyl and epinephrine appears to decrease maximum urethral closure pressure at rest in women. The addition of fentanyl alone to bupivacaine may reduce this effect. Thus, the TEA effect on urethral sphincter function seems to depend on the drug mixture administered.

Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


Epidural Analgesia; Urethral Sphincter Function

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