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Pain. 1994 Dec;59(3):395-403.

Pre-emptive lumbar epidural anaesthesia reduces postoperative pain and patient-controlled morphine consumption after lower abdominal surgery.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Toronto Hospital, Ontario, Canada.


The present study tested the hypothesis that patients receiving epidural bupivacaine before surgery would require less morphine postoperatively and/or report less intense pain than patients receiving epidural bupivacaine after incision but before the end of surgery. Forty-two patients (ASA class I-III) scheduled for lower abdominal surgery were randomly assigned to 1 of 2 groups of equal size and prospectively studied using a double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover design. Epidural catheters were placed in the T12-L1 or L1-L2 interspaces pre-operatively, the position of the catheter was confirmed with 3% chloroprocaine with epinephrine 1:200,000, and sensory testing was carried out until levels had receded to below T12. Group 1 received 15 ml of 0.5% epidural bupivacaine injected 35 min before incision followed by 15 ml of epidural normal saline 30 min after incision. Group 2 received 15 ml of epidural normal saline injected 37 min before incision followed by 15 ml of 0.5% epidural bupivacaine 30 min after incision. General anaesthesia was induced with thiopental (4-6 mg/kg) and maintained with N2O/O2 and isoflurane. Paralysis was achieved with pancuronium (0.1 mg/kg). Opioids were not used as pre-medication or during surgery. Postoperative analgesia consisted of patient-controlled (PCA) intravenous morphine. Visual analogue pain scores (VAS) (at rest and after standardized mobilization) did not differ significantly between the 2 groups but McGill Pain Questionnaire (MPQ) pain ratings were significantly lower in group 1 at the 24 and 72 h assessments. Group 1 used significantly less morphine than did group 2 between 12 and 24 h after surgery.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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