Surgical Endoscopy

, Volume 27, Issue 7, pp 2581–2591 | Cite as

Effect of epidural analgesia on bowel function in laparoscopic colorectal surgery: a systematic review and meta-analysis

  • Suhail A. Khan
  • Haseeb A. Khokhar
  • A. R. H. Nasr
  • Eleanor Carton
  • Sherif El-Masry



Use of thoracic epidural analgesia (TEA) with local anesthetic and adjuncts, such as opioids, are cornerstones of ERAS (Enhanced Recovery After Surgery) and are considered to play a key role in recovery after colorectal surgery. However, its effect on bowel function may lead to prolong hospital stay and is still a matter of debate. The purpose of this systemic review was to assess whether epidural analgesia could have a detrimental effect on bowel function in laparoscopic colorectal surgery with a subsequent effect on hospital stay duration, leading to failure of ERAS in colorectal surgery.


A systematic review of randomized, controlled trials for the effect of epidural analgesia on laparoscopic colorectal surgery was performed. The effect on postoperative recovery was evaluated in terms of return of bowel function as the primary outcome, whereas length of stay (LOS), pain score on visual analogue scale, operative time, and incidence of postoperative complications and side-effects of analgesia were recorded as secondary outcomes.


Six trials published between 1999 and 2011 were included in the final analysis. TEA significantly improves return of bowel function assessed by time to first bowel motion [WMD −0.62 (−1.11, −0.12) with Z = 2.43; P = 0.02, 95 % confidence interval (CI)], and pain scores [WMD −1.23 (−2.4, −0.07)] with Z = 2.07; P = 0.04, 95 % CI]. TEA did not influence duration of hospital stay [WMD −0.47 (−1.55, 0.61)] with Z = 0.85 (P = 0.39, 95 % CI). No significant increase in operative time or side effects was associated with TEA.


Despite of some beneficial effect of epidural analgesia on return of bowel function and pain in laparoscopic surgery, it does not affect LOS, which is multifactorial.


Abdominal Anaesthesia Bowel Colorectal < cancer GI < cancer Clinical papers/trials/research 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Suhail A. Khan
    • 1
  • Haseeb A. Khokhar
    • 1
  • A. R. H. Nasr
    • 1
  • Eleanor Carton
    • 1
  • Sherif El-Masry
    • 1
  1. 1.Colorectal Unit Surgical DepartmentOur Lady of Lourdes Hospital Drogheda Co.LouthIreland

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