BACKGROUND: Analgesia after liver surgery remains controversial. A previous randomized trial of continuous wound infiltration (CWI) versus thoracic epidural analgesia (TEA) after liver surgery (LIVER trial) showed a faster recovery time in the wound infiltration group but better early postoperative pain scores in the TEA group. High-level evidence is, however, limited and opinion remains divided. The aim was to determine whether there is a difference in functional recovery time between patients having CWI plus abdominal nerve blocks versus TEA after liver resection.
METHODS: A randomized unblinded clinical trial of patients undergoing open liver resection was commenced in December 2012, with follow-up to August 2014. Patients were randomized to receive either wound catheter and nerve block (CWI group) or TEA for 48 h after surgery. The primary outcome measure was functional recovery time. Secondary outcomes were pain scores, complication rates, inflammatory response and central venous pressure (CVP) during transection.
RESULTS: Of 50 patients randomized initially to each group, 44 received TEA and 49 CWI. Median (i.q.r.) recovery time was 6·5 (5-9·75) and 5·75 (4-7) days in the TEA and CWI groups respectively (P = 0·036). Pain scores were not significantly different between the two groups, and there were no differences in morbidity, inflammatory response or CVP during transection.
CONCLUSION: Wound infiltration is associated with a reduced time to recovery after open liver resection compared with epidural analgesia. TEA does not offer an advantage over CWI in terms of attenuation of the inflammatory response or pain scores.
REGISTRATION NUMBER: NCT01747122 ( http://www.clinicaltrials.gov).
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- Usher Institute - Personal Chair of Global Surgery and Data Science
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