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World J Surg. 2009 Sep;33(9):1802-8. doi: 10.1007/s00268-009-0131-2.

A change in practice from epidural to intrathecal morphine analgesia for hepato-pancreato-biliary surgery.

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Department of Surgery, Christchurch Hospital, Private Bag 4710, Christchurch, New Zealand.



This study was designed to audit the change of anesthetic practice from thoracic epidural analgesia (TEA) to intrathecal morphine (ITM) combined with patient-controlled analgesia (PCA) for hepato-pancreato-biliary (HPB) surgery.


All patients who underwent major HPB surgery and received TEA or ITM from March 2005 to March 2008 were identified. Patients who received PCA alone were used for comparison. Data were retrospectively collected and analyzed for success of TEA, perioperative intravenous fluid (IVF) volume administered, hypotension, complications, and hospital stay.


During the study period, 51 (32%) patients received TEA, 79 (49%) received ITM plus PCA opiate, and 31 (19%) received PCA alone. The incidence of postoperative hypotension was significantly higher in those who received TEA compared with those who received ITM (21/51 (41%) vs. 7/79 (9%), P < 0.001). The median (range) perioperative IVF administration was higher in the TEA group compared with the ITM group for both the first 24 h (6 (3-11) liters vs. 5 (3-11) liters, P < 0.05) and in total (15.5 (5-48.5) liters vs. 9 (3-70) liters, P < 0.001). Respiratory complications occurred in five (10%) of the TEA group compared with one (1%) in the ITM group (P < 0.05). The median (range) hospital stay was longer in the TEA group compared with the ITM group (9 (3-36) days vs. 7 (3-55) days, P < 0.01).


In a resource-limited setting, ITM, compared with TEA, is associated with a reduced incidence of postoperative hypotension, reduced IVF requirements, shorter hospital stay, and lowers the incidence of respiratory complication.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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