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Anesth Analg. 1998 Feb;86(2):228-34.

A multimodal approach to control postoperative pathophysiology and rehabilitation in patients undergoing abdominothoracic esophagectomy.

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Klinik und Poliklinik für Anästhesiologie und operative Intensivmedizin, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, Germany.


This two-armed study was designed to determine whether recovery after esophageal resection may be improved by introducing a new multimodal approach. For 8 mo after the new approach was introduced, all patients undergoing abdominothoracic esophageal resection were studied (Group 2; n = 42). For comparison, a retrospective analysis was also conducted using the data of all patients who had undergone this operation in the 8 mo before the introduction of the new regimen, when the traditional therapy was still in use (Group 1; n = 49). All patients received an epidural catheter at the level of T6-9 before the induction of general analgesia. Afterward, Group 1 patients were operated under general anesthesia. For postoperative pain relief, a mixture of bupivacaine 1.25 mg/mL and sufentanil 1 microg/mL was administered during 5 days without titration of the quality of analgesia. Patients in Group 2 received a preoperative bolus of 10-15 mL bupivacaine 2.5 mg/mL and 20-30 microg sufentanil. After sensory block up to T4 was confirmed, general anesthesia was introduced and intraoperatively combined with a continuous infusion of 5 mL/h of a solution containing bupivacaine 1.75 mg/mL and sufentanil 1 microg/mL. Postoperatively, the epidural infusion rate was adjusted to the need of the individual patients, who were able to administer themselves additional bolus doses of 2 mL with a lockout time of 20 min. Early tracheal extubation and forced mobilization were pursued to improve recovery. Demographic data of both groups were comparable. The pain relief of Group 2 patients was superior to that of patients in Group 1. The nitrogen balance of a subgroup of nine matched pairs of patients with comparable nutritional status was less negative in Group 2 patients on Postoperative Days 1 and 2. Patients in Group 2 were tracheally extubated earlier (mean 6.7 vs 25.1 h after admission to the intensive care unit [ICU]), mobilized earlier (mean 1.2 vs 2.0 days after surgery), discharged from the ICU earlier (mean 1.7 vs 4.0 days), and fulfilled criteria for discharge from the ICU (mean 1.8 vs 4.1 days) and from the intermediate care unit earlier (4.9 vs 6.4 days). We conclude that the multimodal approach may improve recovery and thus reduce costs after abdominothoracic esophageal resection.


Analgesia and blockade of the perioperative stress response, combined with other aspects of postoperative therapy, may improve recovery after surgery. The intensive care unit stay after esophageal resection was reduced by a new regimen (thoracic epidural analgesia, early tracheal extubation, forced mobilization). This approach may influence the cost of major surgery.

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