Background: Previous studies suggest that intraoperative anesthetic care may influence postoperative pain and recovery from surgery. The authors tested the hypothesis that the addition of intrathecal analgesia to general anesthesia would improve long-term functional status and decrease pain in patients undergoing radical retropubic prostatectomy. Methods: One hundred patients received either general anesthesia supplemented with intravenous fentanyl or general anesthesia preceded by intrathecal administration of bupivacaine (15 mg), clonidine (75 μg), and morphine (0.2 mg). Patients and providers were masked to treatment assignment. All patients received multimodal pain management postoperatively. Primary outcomes included pain and functional status over the first 12 postoperative weeks. Results: Patients receiving intrathecal analgesia required more intravenous fluids and vasopressors intraoperatively. Pain was well controlled throughout the study (mean numerical pain scores < 3 in both groups at all times studied). Intrathecal analgesia decreased pain and supplemental intravenous morphine use over the first postoperative day but increased the frequency of pruritus. Pain and functional status after discharge from the hospital did not differ between groups. Intrathecal analgesia significantly decreased the duration of hospital stay (from 2.8 ± 2.0 to 2.1 ± 0.5 days; P < 0.01) as a result of five patients in the control group who stayed in the hospital more than 3 days. Conclusions: The benefits of improved immediate analgesia and decreased morphine requirements resulting from intrathecal analgesia must be weighed against factors such as pruritus, increased intraoperative requirement for fluids and vasopressors, and resources needed to implement this modality. Further studies are needed to determine the significance of the decrease in duration of hospital stay.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine