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Postoperative epidural analgesia in children after major orthopaedic surgery: A randomised study of the effect on PONV of two anaesthetic techniques: low and high dose i.v. fentanyl and epidural infusions with and without fentanyl

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The study was performed in order to improve postoperative pain management in children after major orthopaedic surgery. Two different anaesthetic techniques (sevoflurane-low fentanyl and propofol-higher fentanyl) and two different epidural mixtures (bupivacaine 1.5 mg ml−1 and adrenaline 2 μg ml−1 compared with bupivacaine 1 mg ml−1, adrenaline 2 μg ml−1 and fentanyl 2 μg ml−1) were investigated with regard to postoperative analgesia and side effects, primarily postoperative nausea and vomiting (PONV). Methods:

Forty-two children were randomised into one of three groups: sevoflurane anaesthesia and epidural solution with fentanyl (SBAF); sevoflurane anaesthesia and epidural solution without fentanyl (SBA); propofol anaesthesia and epidural solution without fentanyl (PBA). Results:

Including fentanyl in the epidural mixture resulted in excellent postoperative analgesia without any need of i.v. opioids. However, 7 out of 16 children were nauseated and needed antiemetic drugs. On average, a 55–75% higher dose of bupivacaine was necessary to assure adequate analgesia when an epidural mixture without fentanyl was used. In addition, significantly more children needed i.v. opioids. Under these conditions there was no significant difference in pain scoring between the groups. There was significantly less nausea and less use of antiemetic drugs in children having epidurals without fentanyl in the sevoflurane groups. The same tendency, although not significant, was observed in the whole material. Sevoflurane anaesthesia resulted in less PONV than propofol anaesthesia, probably due to the higher amount of intravenous fentanyl used with the latter. This difference was not significant due to the small number of children included. Incidence of pruritus related significantly to epidural fentanyl. Conclusion:

A satisfactory postoperative analgesia can be achieved with both epidural mixtures used in the study. Epidural fentanyl results in better analgesia, but significantly more PONV and greater use of antiemetic drugs. Omitting epidural fentanyl results in less PONV, but significantly less profound analgesia and a need for additional treatment with i.v. opioids, in addition to a 55–75% higher epidural bupivacaine infusion. Both epidural treatments result in high and similar patient satisfaction and no serious complications. The study could not show any significant difference between the effect of sevoflurane and propofol anaesthesia on PONV.
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Keywords: Analgesia; epidural; nausea; pediatrics; postoperative; vomiting

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2001-04-01

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