Interaoperative use of epidural methylprednisolone or bupivacaine for postsurgical lumbar discectomy pain relief: a randomized, placebo-controlled trial

Iraj Lotfinia, Esmaeel Khallaghi, Ali Meshkini, Moslem Shakeri, Mohammad Shima, Abdolrasol Safaeian
Annals of Saudi Medicine 2007, 27 (4): 279-83

BACKGROUND: Many patients with lumbar disc surgery experience postoperative back and radicular pain, delaying hospital discharge and resumption of normal activity. Some surgeons have used intraoperative epidural corticosteroids and local anesthetics to decrease pain following surgery for a herniated lumbar disc. Controversies still exist regarding the benefits of these drugs. The present study was meant to compare the effects of the intraoperative administration of epidural methylprednisolone and bupivacaine with that of normal saline (placebo) in lumbar disc surgery for postoperative pain control.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: One hundred fifty patients with single level herniated nucleus pulposus (L4-L5 or L5-S1), which was refractory to 6 weeks of conservative management, were divided randomly in three groups. A standard hemipartial lamimectomy and discectomy was performed on all patients. At the end of the surgery, before the closure of fascia, 40 mg methylprednisolone with 3 mL normal saline for group 1, 2 mL bupivacaine 5% with 2 mL normal saline for group 2 and 4 mL normal saline for group 3 were instilled onto the epidural and exposed nerve root. Postoperative back and radicular pain intensity was assessed by a visual analogue scale (VAS) before and at 24, 48, 72, and 96 hours after surgery.

RESULTS: There was no significant difference in back and radicular pain intensity between the three groups.

CONCLUSION: Intraoperative administration of epidural methylprednisolone or bupivacaine does not relieve postoperative back and radicular pain.

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