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Orthop Rev (Pavia). 2010 Mar 20;2(1):e9. doi: 10.4081/or.2010.e9.

Efficacy of post-operative analgesia after posterior lumbar instrumented fusion for degenerative disc disease: a prospective randomized comparison of epidural catheter and intravenous administration of analgesics.

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Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Eberhard-Karls-University Tübingen;


This prospective study aimed to compare the efficacy of epidural (EDA) versus intravenous (PCA) application of analgesics after lumbar fusion. Fifty-two patients scheduled for elective posterior instrumented lumbar fusion were randomized into two groups. EDA patients received an epidural catheter intraoperatively, and administration of ropivacain and sulfentanil was started after a normal postoperative wake-up test in the recovery room area. PCA patients received intravenous opioids in the post-operative period. Differences between EDA and PCA groups in terms of patient satisfaction with respect to pain relief were not significant. Nevertheless, EDA patients reported less pain on the third day after surgery. There were significantly more side effects in the EDA group, including complete reversible loss of sensory function and motor weakness. There were no major side effects, such as infection or persisting neurological deficits, in either group. The routine use of epidural anesthesia for lumbar spine surgery has too many risks and offers very little advantage over PCA.


epidural analgesia; intravenous application; lumbar fusion; perioperative pain.

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