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Continuous epidural infusion of morphine versus single epidural injection of extended-release morphine for postoperative pain control after arthroplasty: a retrospective analysis

Authors Vanterpool S, Coombs R, Fecho K

Published 10 June 2010 Volume 2010:6 Pages 271—277


Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Stephanie Vanterpool, Randall Coombs, Karamarie Fecho

Department of Anesthesiology, School of Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, USA

Background: This study retrospectively compared the continuous epidural infusion of morphine with a single epidural injection of extended-release morphine for postoperative pain control after arthroplasty.

Methods: Medical records were reviewed for subjects who had total knee or hip arthroplasty (THA) under spinal anesthesia and received either a continuous epidural infusion of morphine (Group EPID; n = 101) or an extended-release epidural morphine (Group EREM; n = 109) for postoperative pain. Data were collected for three postoperative days (POD) on: pain scores; supplemental opioids; medications for respiratory depression, nausea, and pruritus, and distance ambulated during physical therapy.

Results: Pain scores were similar until subjects were transitioned to another analgesic approach on POD 2; after that time, pain scores increased in Group EPID, although they decreased in Group EREM. Supplemental opioids were used more on POD1 in Group EREM than in Group EPID, although time to first opioid and total daily morphine equivalents were similar. Naloxone and antiemetics, not antipruritics, were used more in Group EREM. Distance ambulated after THA was greater in Group EREM than in Group EPID.

Conclusions: These results suggest that EREM is associated with better postoperative ambulation and analgesia during the transition to oral or intravenous analgesics, although a higher incidence of side-effects was evident.

Keywords: continuous epidural morphine infusion, extended-release epidural morphine, lower extremity arthroplasty, ambulation, postoperative pain, side-effects

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