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New study: Is postoperative epidural analgesia better than patient-controlled analgesia for radical cystectomy?

J of Clin Urology. 2014; 7(3): 190-97

Gomez AMA, Clarke C, Smith D, Yutkin V, Alzahrani A, Izawa JI. 



The purpose of this study was to evaluate postoperative epidural analgesia (EPA) and intravenous patient-controlled analgesia (PCA) in terms of morbidity and mortality in patients undergoing radical cystectomy for bladder cancer.


A retrospective study on patients undergoing radical cystectomy for clinical Tis-4N0M0 urothelial carcinoma of the bladder was performed. Patients were separated into two groups: primary EPA or PCA for postoperative analgesia. The surgical complication severity was determined according to the Clavien system. Mann-Whitney U tests, χ2 with Yates’ correction, or Fisher’s exact test were used. Predictive risk factors were explored using univariable and multivariable Cox regression models.


Of the 274 patients studied, 209 (76%) received EPA and 65 (24%) had PCA. Baseline balance was observed. Similar complication rates were observed between the EPA (36%) and PCA (34%) (p=0.382). Patients greater than 70 years of age had more complications (35% vs 21%, p=0.002). PCA patients had higher rates of high-grade complications compared with EPA patients [40% vs 20% (p=0.0007)]. Only age at time of surgery (p=0.032) was associated with complications. Patients with pulmonary disease had a higher risk of complications (p=0.001). EPA or PCA were not predictors for overall survival.


There does not appear to be a significant difference in terms of morbidity or mortality between EPA and PCA following radical cystectomy (RC). Rare, catastrophic complications specific to EPA may occur. Standardized reporting of surgical complications is essential to compare studies and appropriately counsel patients.

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