Thoracic epidural fentanyl has been used successfully for postoperative analgesia in patients undergoing thoracic surgery. Prior investigators have suggested that increasing the administered dosage and volume of lumbar epidural fentanyl may increase the spread of analgesia. The feasibility of injecting a high volume (20 mL) of fentanyl into the lumbar epidural space for post-thoracic surgery analgesia was studied in 17 patients undergoing elective thoracotomy or sternotomy. All patients had a lumbar epidural catheter placed before induction of general anesthesia. No narcotic was administered during surgery. Thirty minutes before the conclusion of anesthesia, 200 μg of fentanyl in 16 mL of 0.9% saline was administered via the epidural route. In the intensive care unit (ICU), additional fentanyl in the same dosage and volume was injected when the patient complained of pain. Pain was scored on a linear analog scale pre-injection and 30 minutes post-injection. Arterial blood gases were obtained-simultaneously. All patients experienced pain relief within 15 minutes of injection. No significant respiratory depression or hypercarbia was noted. Lumbar epidural fentanyl is a safe and practical alternative to thoracic epidural analgesia in the post-thoracic surgical patient.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
- Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine