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Mol Clin Oncol. 2015 Jan;3(1):190-196. Epub 2014 Sep 1.

Effects of epidural anesthesia and postoperative epidural analgesia on immune function in esophageal carcinoma patients undergoing thoracic surgery.

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Department of Anesthesiology, Affiliated Suzhou Hospital of Nanjing Medical University, Suzhou, Jiangsu 215008, P.R. China.
Department of Anesthesiology, First Affiliated Hospital of Nanjing Medical University, Nanjing, Jiangsu 210029, P.R. China.
Department of Anesthesiology, Suzhou BenQ Medical Center, Nanjing Medical University, Suzhou, Jiangsu 215009, P.R. China.


Thoracic epidural anesthesia (TEA) has been demonstrated to significantly reduce stress and immune dysfunction in trauma patients. In esophageal carcinoma patients undergoing thoracic surgery, TEA combined with general anesthesia during surgery and subsequent postoperative patient-controlled epidural analgesia (PCEA) may improve plasma cortisol (Cor), interleukin (IL)-6 and IL-17 levels and helper T-cell differentiation. A total of 60 esophageal carcinoma patients undergoing thoracic surgery were randomly allocated into groups I, II, III and I (n=15 per group). During surgery, groups I and II received total intravenous general anesthesia (TIVA), whereas groups III and IV received combined TEA and TIVA. Postoperatively, groups I and III received postoperative patient-controlled intravenous analgesia (PCIA), while groups II and IV received PCEA. The Cor, IL-6, IFN-γ, IL-4 and IL-17 levels were measured in peripheral blood samples collected prior to anesthesia (T0), at 2 h after incision (T1), at 4 h postoperatively (T2), at 24 h postoperatively (T3) and at 48 h postoperatively (T4). The plasma Cor, IL-17 and IL-6 levels increased significantly at the beginning of the operation in groups I, II and III, while in group IV there were no significant differences during the entire period, concurrent with enhanced Th0 to Th2 shift, contributing to a Th2-dominant Th1/Th2 ratio. General anesthesia with TEA more efficiently inhibited the onset of the Th2-dominant status and decreased the plasma levels of Cor and IL-6 compared to general anesthesia alone and PCEA inhibited the Th2-dominant status more efficiently compared to PCIA. Therefore, general anesthesia combined with TEA and sole administration of PCEA were demonstrated to inhibit the stress response and minimize immune dysfunction, generating most pronounced results upon combination TEA/PCEA treatment.


epidural analgesia; epidural anesthesia; esophageal cancer; esophageal surgery; immune function

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