Ropivacaine continuous wound infusion versus epidural morphine for postoperative analgesia after cesarean delivery: a randomized controlled trial

Patricia O'Neill, Filipa Duarte, Isabel Ribeiro, Maria João Centeno, João Moreira
Anesthesia and Analgesia 2012, 114 (1): 179-85

BACKGROUND: The infusion of local anesthetic in the surgical wound is helpful in the multimodal management of postoperative pain. We hypothesized that local anesthetic wound infusion after cesarean delivery would provide better pain control than epidural morphine analgesia.

METHODS: Healthy, term women scheduled for elective cesarean delivery were included in this assessor-blinded, randomized study. Patients were randomly assigned to receive analgesia through a multiorifice wound catheter placed below the fascia and connected to a 5 mL/h ropivacaine 2 mg/mL infusion or an epidural bolus of morphine 2 mg every 12 hours. Both analgesic regimens were continued for 48 hours. The primary outcome was pain at rest at 24 hours postoperatively using the verbal rating score for pain (0-10 scale). Pain intensity, rescue analgesia consumption, and side effects were assessed at 2, 6, 24, and 48 hours after cesarean delivery by an observer blinded to group allocation. Three months after discharge, patient satisfaction, residual pain, and surgical wound complications were assessed.

RESULTS: Fifty-eight women participated in the study. At 24 hours, the median rest verbal rating score for pain was 0 (interquartile range: 0-0) in the continuous infusion group and 3 in the epidural morphine group (interquartile range: 2-3; 95% confidence interval of difference: 1-3 units; P < 0.001). The median scores of the 2-, 6-, and 48-hour pain assessments at rest were also lower in the continuous wound infusion group than in the epidural morphine group, and at 2, 6, and 24 hours with movement (P < 0.001). The incidence of nausea, vomiting, pruritus, and urinary retention was significantly lower in the wound infusion group and time to recovery of bowel function was shorter. During the 48-hour follow-up evaluation, the median number of nurse visits attributed exclusively to the analgesic regimen was 1 (interquartile range: 1-2) in the continuous wound infusion group and 8 (interquartile range: 7-10) in the epidural morphine group (95% confidence interval of difference: 6-8 visits; P < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS: Continuous wound infusion with ropivacaine for 48 hours after cesarean delivery was associated with better analgesia, a lower incidence of side effects, less need for nursing care, and shorter duration of stay compared with epidural morphine analgesia.

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