Preemptive analgesia: intraperitoneal local anesthetic in laparoscopic cholecystectomy. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study

A Pasqualucci, V de Angelis, R Contardo, F Colò, G Terrosu, A Donini, A Pasetto, F Bresadola
Anesthesiology 1996, 85 (1): 11-20

BACKGROUND: A controversy exists over the effectiveness and clinical value of preemptive analgesia. Additional studies are needed to define the optimum intensity, duration, and timing of analgesia relative to incision and surgery.

METHODS: One hundred twenty patients undergoing laparoscopic cholecystectomy under general anesthesia plus topical peritoneal local anesthetic or saline were studied. Local anesthetic (0.5% bupivacaine with epinephrine) or placebo solutions were given as follows: immediately after the creation of a pneumoperitoneum (blocking before surgery), and at the end of the operation (blocking after surgery). Patients were randomly assigned to one of four groups of 30 patients each. Group A (placebo) received 20 ml 0.9% saline both before and after surgery, group B received 20 ml 0.9% saline before surgery and 20 ml local anesthetic after surgery, group C received 20 ml local anesthetic both before and after surgery, group P received 20 ml local anesthetic before and 20 ml 0.9% saline after surgery. Pain was assessed using a visual analog scale and a verbal rating scale at 0, 4, 8, 12, and 24 h after surgery. Metabolic endocrine responses (blood glucose and cortisol concentrations) and analgesic requirements also were investigated.

RESULTS: Pain intensity (visual analog and verbal rating scales) and analgesic requirements were significantly less in the group receiving bupivacaine after surgery compared to placebo. However, in the groups receiving bupivacaine before surgery, both pain intensity and analgesic consumption were less than in the group receiving bupivacaine only after surgery. Blood glucose and cortisol concentrations 3 h after surgery were significantly less in groups receiving bupivacaine before surgery.

CONCLUSIONS: The results indicate that intraperitoneal local anesthetic blockade administered before or after surgery preempts postoperative pain relative to an untreated placebo-control condition. However, the timing of administration is also important in that postoperative pain intensity and analgesic consumption are both lower among patients treated with local anesthetic before versus after surgery.


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