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Acta Anaesthesiol Scand. 2011 Aug;55(7):785-96. doi: 10.1111/j.1399-6576.2011.02463.x. Epub 2011 May 25.

A meta-analysis of the efficacy of wound catheters for post-operative pain management.

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Department of Medicine, Division of Anesthesiology and Intensive Care, Örebro University Hospital, Örebro, Sweden.


Local anesthetics (LA) are injected via catheters placed in surgical wounds for post-operative analgesia. The primary aim of this systematic review was to assess whether LA reduce pain intensity when injected via wound catheters. A literature search was performed from Medline via PubMed, EMBASE and the Cochrane database from 1966 until November 2009. The search strategy included the following key words: pain, postoperative, catheters and local anesthetics. Two co-authors independently read every article that was initially included and extracted data into a pre-defined study record form. A total of 753 studies primarily fit the search criteria and 163 were initially extracted. Of these, 32 studies were included in the meta-analysis. Wound catheters provided no significant analgesia at rest or on activity, except in patients undergoing gynecological and obstetric surgery at 48 h (P=0.03). The overall morphine consumption was lower (≈13 mg) during 0-24 h (P<0.001) in these patients. No significant differences in side effects were found, except for a lower risk of wound breakdown (P=0.048) and a shorter length of hospital stay (P=0.04) in patients receiving LA. A statistically significant heterogeneity was seen between the studies in most end-points. LA injected via wound catheters did not reduce pain intensity, except at 48 h in a subgroup of patients undergoing obstetric and gynecological surgery. Rescue analgesic consumption was also lower in this group at 0-24 h. The magnitude of these effects was small and compounded by pronounced heterogeneity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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