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HPB (Oxford). 2014 Aug;16(8):768-75. doi: 10.1111/hpb.12222. Epub 2014 Jan 28.

A prospective cohort study of intrathecal versus epidural analgesia for patients undergoing hepatic resection.

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Department of Anaesthesia, Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK.



The aim of this prospective observational study was to compare peri/post-operative outcomes of thoracic epidural analgesia (TEA) versus intrathecal morphine and fentanyl patient-controlled analgesia (ITM+fPCA) for patients undergoing a hepatic resection (HR).


Patients undergoing elective, one-stage, open HR for benign and malignant liver lesions, receiving central neuraxial block as part of the anaesthetic, in a high-volume hepato-pancreato-biliary unit, were included in the study. The primary outcome measure was post-operative length of stay (LoS).


A total of 73 patients (36 TEA and 37 ITM+fPCA) were included in the study. The median (IQR) post-operative LoS was 13 (11-15) and 11 (9-13) days in the TEA and ITM+fPCA groups, respectively (P = 0.011). There was significantly lower median intra-operative central venous pressure (P < 0.001) and blood loss (P = 0.017) in the TEA group, and a significant reduction in the time until mobilization (P < 0.001), post-operative intra-venous fluid/vasopressor requirement (P < 0.001/P = 0.004) in the ITM+fPCA group. Pain scores were lower at a clinically significant level 12 h post-operatively in the TEA group (P < 0.001); otherwise there were no differences out to day five. There were no differences in quality of recovery or postoperative morbidity/mortality between the two groups.


ITM+fPCA provides acceptable post-operative outcomes for HR, but may also increase the incidence of intra-operative blood loss in comparison to TEA.

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