Epidural versus intrathecal morphine for postoperative analgesia after Caesarean section

C Dualé, C Frey, F Bolandard, A Barrière, P Schoeffler
British Journal of Anaesthesia 2003, 91 (5): 690-4

BACKGROUND: Perispinal anaesthesia for Caesarean section allows injection of epidural (ED) or intrathecal (i.t.) morphine to provide long-lasting postoperative analgesia. To compare these two routes, a prospective, randomized, double-blinded study of 53 patients undergoing elective Caesarean section was performed.

METHODS: Combined spinal-epidural anaesthesia with 6 mg of i.t. hyperbaric bupivacaine plus sufentanil 5 microg, and additional ED lidocaine was used. Additionally, each patient received either 2 mg (2 ml) of ED morphine plus 1 ml of i.t. normal saline (ED group, n=28), or 0.075 mg (1 ml) of i.t. morphine plus 2 ml of ED normal saline (i.t. group, n=25). Additional postoperative analgesia was given in the form of propacetamol and ketoprofen, plus self-administered i.v. morphine.

RESULTS: No major respiratory depression occurred. Time to first demand of morphine was similar in the ED (307.5 min) and i.t. (310 min) groups, as was the incidence of side-effects such as sedation, pruritus, nausea, and vomiting. During the first 24 postoperative hours, VAS pain scores were greater in the i.t. group (P=0.032), as was additional morphine consumption (4 vs 1.5 mg) (P=0.03).

CONCLUSIONS: The ED protocol was more effective than the i.t. protocol, whilst side-effects were similar.

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