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Randomized clinical trial of perioperative nerve block and continuous local anaesthetic infiltration via wound catheter versus epidural analgesia in open liver resection (LIVER 2 trial). BJS 2015; 102: 1619-1628.

Published: 8th October 2015

Authors: M. J. Hughes, E. M. Harrison, N. J. Peel, B. Stutchfield, S. McNally, C. Beattie et al.

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.

Method

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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