Journal of Gastrointestinal Surgery

, Volume 17, Issue 4, pp 660–667

Negligible Effect of Perioperative Epidural Analgesia Among Patients Undergoing Elective Gastric and Pancreatic Resections

  • Dhruvil R. Shah
  • Erin Brown
  • Jack E. Russo
  • Chin-Shang Li
  • Steve R. Martinez
  • Jodi M. Coates
  • Richard J. Bold
  • Robert J. Canter
Original Article



There are conflicting data regarding improvements in postoperative outcomes with perioperative epidural analgesia. We sought to examine the effect of perioperative epidural analgesia vs. intravenous narcotic analgesia on perioperative outcomes including pain control, morbidity, and mortality in patients undergoing gastric and pancreatic resections.


We evaluated 169 patients from 2007 to 2011 who underwent open gastric and pancreatic resections for malignancy at a university medical center. Emergency, traumatic, pediatric, enucleations, and disseminated cancer cases were excluded. Clinicopathologic data were reviewed among epidural (E) and non-epidural (NE) patients for their association with perioperative endpoints.


One hundred twenty patients (71 %) received an epidural and 49 (29 %) did not. There were no significant differences (P > 0.05) in mean pain scores at each of the four days (days 0–3) among the E (3.2 ± 2.7, 3.2 ± 2.3, 2.3 ± 1.9, and 2.1 ± 1.9, respectively) and NE patients (3.7 ± 2.7, 3.4 ± 1.9, 2.9 ± 2.1, and 2.4 ± 1.9, respectively). Within each of the E and NE patient groups, there were significant differences (P < 0.0001) in mean pain scores from day 0 to day 3 (P < 0.0001). Of the E patients, 69 % also received intravenous patient-controlled analgesia (PCA). Ileus (13 % E vs. 8 % NE), pneumonia (12 % E vs. 8 % NE), venous thromboembolism (6 % E vs. 4 % NE), length of stay [11.0 ± 12.1 (8, 4–107) E vs. 12.2 ± 10.7 (7, 3–54) NE], overall morbidity (36 % E vs. 39 % NE), and mortality (4 % E vs. 2 % NE) were not significantly different.


Routine use of epidurals in this group of patients does not appear to be superior to PCA.


Epidural analgesia Upper gastrointestinal surgery Morbidity Mortality 


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Copyright information

© The Society for Surgery of the Alimentary Tract 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dhruvil R. Shah
    • 1
  • Erin Brown
    • 1
  • Jack E. Russo
    • 1
  • Chin-Shang Li
    • 2
  • Steve R. Martinez
    • 1
  • Jodi M. Coates
    • 1
  • Richard J. Bold
    • 1
  • Robert J. Canter
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Surgical OncologyUC Davis Cancer CenterSacramentoUSA
  2. 2.Division of Biostatistics, Department of Public Health SciencesUniversity of California DavisDavisUSA

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