The purpose of this study was to determine whether neuraxial analgesic procedures affect intraoperative hemodynamics and/or postoperative outcomes. Previous studies have examined effects in small samples of patients in highly controlled research environments. This study examined “real-world” data from a large sample of subjects receiving routine clinical cares.
A matched case–control analysis of electronic medical records from a large, academic hospital was performed. Patients who underwent neuraxial procedures preoperatively for postoperative analgesia for abdominal surgery (n=1570) were compared with control patients matched according to age, sex, ASA class and type of surgical procedure. Intraoperative hemodynamic measures, fluids and pressor utilization were quantified. Postoperative outcomes were determined based on the changes in laboratory values, the ordering of imaging studies and admission to an intensive care unit during the seven days following surgery as well as 30-day mortality.
Medical records of 1082 patients who received an epidural catheter placement and 488 patients who received a lumbar intrathecal morphine injection were compared with an equal number of matched control patients. Preoperative placement of an epidural catheter for the management of postoperative pain was demonstrated to be associated with significant reductions in mean arterial pressure intraoperatively and poorer postoperative outcomes (more intensive care unit [ICU] admissions, more myocardial injuries) when compared with controls. A similar analysis of preoperatively administered intrathecal morphine injections was not associated with intraoperative alterations in blood pressure and had improved outcomes (less ICU admissions) in comparison with controls.
In a “real-world” sample, intrathecal morphine administration proved to be highly beneficial as a neuraxial analgesic procedure as it was not associated with intraoperative hypotension and was associated with improved clinical outcomes, in contrast to opposite findings associated with epidural catheter placement. There should be a careful consideration of elective neuraxial method utilized for postoperative pain control, with the present study raising significant concerns related to the use of epidural analgesia and its potential effect on clinical outcomes.