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Int J Colorectal Dis. 2015 Apr;30(4):475-81. doi: 10.1007/s00384-014-2098-1. Epub 2015 Jan 13.

General anesthesia combined with epidural anesthesia ameliorates the effect of fast-track surgery by mitigating immunosuppression and facilitating intestinal functional recovery in colon cancer patients.

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Department of Anesthesiology, Fudan University Shanghai Cancer Center, Shanghai Medical College, Fudan University, Shanghai, 200032, China.



The purpose of this study is to investigate the influence of anesthetic methods on markers of anti-tumor immunity and intestinal functions in fast-track surgery in colon cancer (CC) patients during the perioperative period.


A total of 53 patients with American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) I-II status randomly received general anesthesia (G group, n = 27) or general anesthesia combined with epidural anesthesia (E group, n = 26) for surgical tumor resection. The recovery times of intestinal function were evaluated in both groups postoperatively. The frequencies of different subsets of CD4+ T cells and myeloid-derived suppressor cells and C-reactive protein (CRP) were measured by flow cytometry and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, respectively, before anesthesia (t0), 1 h after the beginning of surgery (t1), 1 h after the end of surgery (t2), and on day 2 (t3) and day 5 (t4) post-surgery.


There was no significant difference in demographic characteristics between the two groups, but the E group of patients received significantly lower amounts of morphine and sevoflurane. In comparison with those in the G group, significantly greater numbers of lymphocytes and elevated frequencies of Th1 cells were detected at t3 and t4 post-surgery in the E group (p < 0.01). Significantly lower percentages of Th2 cells and regulatory T cells were detected in the E group at t2-4 post-surgery. Whereas the levels of plasma CRP increased post-surgery in both groups, the levels of CRP were significantly lower in the E group than those in the G group at t3-4 post-surgery (p < 0.05). The times to the first flatus and to tolerate a full diet were significantly shorter in the E group than those in the G group (p < 0.01).


General anesthesia combined with epidural anesthesia plays an important role in fast-track surgery, mitigating the surgical stress-related impairment of anti-tumor immune responses and hastening the recovery of intestinal function. This combination might also help to improve long-term outcomes for CC patients.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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