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Anaesth Intensive Care. 1997 Oct;25(5):520-4.

Analgesia following thoracotomy: a survey of Australian practice.

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  • 1Department of Anaesthesia, Royal Perth Hospital, Western Australia.


This survey examines pain management after thoracotomy in Australian hospitals. Questionnaires were sent to senior thoracic anaesthetists at 27 hospitals (16 public and 11 private) with thoracic surgical units. Twenty-six anaesthetists replied and 24 responses were included in the analyses. Seventy-two percent of respondents were from hospitals with acute pain services (APS), and in 94% of these hospitals patients are reportedly visited by the APS. The most frequently used analgesic modalities are epidural analgesia, intravenous patient-controlled analgesia (IVPCA), and nurse-controlled intravenous opioid infusions. Over half of the anaesthetists reported using local anaesthetic intercostal nerve block, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), or paracetamol. Combinations of analgesic techniques were cited frequently. Respondents reported that cryoanalgesia, interpleural blockade, paravertebral blockade, subarachnoid infusions, ketamine, and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation are used infrequently. Anaesthetists from public hospitals reported using epidural analgesia, IVPCA and NSAIDs more frequently than those from private hospitals. When epidural analgesia is used, most respondents place the catheter in the mid-thoracic region (91%), use a regimen of opioids plus local anaesthetic (96%), use a constant infusion technique (100%), and continue analgesia for up to three days (83%). Over half of the respondents reported that post-thoracotomy patients are nursed in a high-dependency area. Seventy-nine percent of respondents selected epidural analgesia as the best available analgesia technique, whereas 21% consider IVPCA to be the best. Only 75% of respondents reported that the type of analgesia they consider best is also the type which they use most frequently.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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