Epidural bolus clonidine/morphine versus epidural patient-controlled bupivacaine/sufentanil: quality of postoperative analgesia and cost-identification analysis

M G Rockemann, W Seeling, S Duschek, H Reinelt, P Steffen, M Georgieff
Anesthesia and Analgesia 1997, 85 (4): 864-9

UNLABELLED: We compared the costs, quality of analgesia, and side effects of postoperative patient-controlled epidural analgesia (PCEA) with bupivacaine/sufentanil versus an epidural bolus (BOLUS) of clonidine/morphine in 68 patients with pancreatic surgery. Postoperative pain treatment was performed over 4 days: the PCEA pump was filled with bupivacaine 0.25% and sufentanil 2 micrograms/mL and set to 3-mL bolus and 10-min lockout time. BOLUS patients received injections of clonidine 150 micrograms plus morphine 2 mg on demand. Visual analog scale (VAS) score at rest and during coughing, heart rate (HR), systolic arterial pressure (SAP), incidence of postoperative nausea and vomiting, pruritus, duration of intestinal paralysis, hospital treatment, and costs for personnel and material were recorded. VAS scores during coughing (3 +/- 2.5 vs 5 +/- 3, P < 0.001) was higher, and HR (79 +/- 13 vs 89 +/- 15, P < 0.001), and SAP (110 +/- 18 vs 124 +/- 23, P < 0.001) were lower, in the BOLUS compared with the PCEA group. The incidence of hypotension (SAP < 80 mm Hg) was greater (6 vs 0, P < 0.001) in the BOLUS group. The incidence of all other side effects was comparable. The costs of personnel ($204 +/- $40 vs $166 +/- $38, P < 0.001) were higher in the BOLUS group, but the costs of material ($51 +/- $17 vs $87 +/- $18, P < 0.001) were higher in the PCEA group. Total costs ($62 +/- $9 vs $62 +/- $11 per day, P = 0.9) were comparable. We conclude that because of superior analgesia and reduced side effects at analogous costs, PCEA is preferable to the BOLUS technique for the treatment of postoperative pain.

IMPLICATIONS: An epidural clonidine/morphine bolus technique resulted in inferior analgesia, more side effects, and comparable costs compared with a bupivacaine/sufentanil patient-controlled regimen in a randomized controlled trial after abdominal surgery.

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