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Can J Anaesth. 2000 May;47(5):406-11.

Improved bowel function after gynecological surgery with epidural bupivacaine-fentanyl than bupivacaine-morphine infusion.

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Magee-Womens Hospital, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Department of Anesthesiology, PA 15213, USA.



To compare postoperative gastrointestinal recovery between continuous epidural bupivacaine-fentanyl and bupivacaine-morphine.


In a blinded, randomized, prospective trial, 60 women undergoing surgery for gynecologic cancer were studied. Anesthesia was provided by a combined general/epidural (L2-3 catheter) technique without epidural opioids. Postoperative epidural analgesia was by continuous infusion of bupivacaine 0.1% with either morphine 0.05 mg x ml(-1) (BM) or fentanyl 5 microg x ml(-1) (BF). Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) scores for pain at rest and during movement, and the return of bowel function were collected for three days and the duration of hospitalization were noted.


On POD-1, 18.5% of patients in the BM group had emesis compared with none in the BF group (P = 0.038) and fewer patients in the BM group tolerated clear oral fluids (11.1% BM vs 40.6% BF, P = 0.025). These differences became insignificant on POD-2 and 3. Median pain scores were comparable at rest and ranged from 10-20 in the BM group vs 0-20 in the BF group over the three days. Similarly, median pain scores with movement respectively ranged from 20-25 and 20-30 in the BF and BM groups. The mean duration of hospitalization was longer in the BM group (5.7 +/- 2.4) vs BF (4.5 +/- 1.2 days), P = 0.017.


Epidural BM and BF provided equally effective postoperative analgesia at rest and during movement. Compared with BM, epidural BF is associated with less emesis and an increased ability to tolerate oral fluids on POD-1 and an overall shorter hospital stay.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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