Anaesthesia and Intensive Care vol:33 issue:4 pages:452-456
Patient-controlled epidural analgesia (PCEA) is used to maintain epidural analgesia following initial intrathecal analgesia. This trial investigated whether a continuous background infusion with PCEA provides superior analgesia to PCEA alone among patients who received combined spinal-epidural (CSE) analgesia during labour Eighty parturients were randomized to either PCEA alone (PCEA) or PCEA with a background infusion of ropivacaine 0.15% with sufentanil 0.75 microg/ml at 2 ml/h (PCEA + CEI). PCEA settings were a bolus of 4 ml of the same analgesic solution with a lockout interval of 15 minutes. Significantly more patients in the PCEA group required at least one anaesthetist intervention for breakthrough pain (27 [71%] vs 10 [25%] in the PCEA + CEI group, P<0.05). Consumption of local anaesthetic (excluding manually administered boluses) was similar between the groups. If anaesthetist-administered boluses were included, more local anaesthetic was consumed by the PCEA group (47.1 +/- 19.4 mg vs 35.6 +/- 12.0 mg in the PCEA + CEI group, P<0.05). We conclude that PCEA with a background infusion provides effective analgesia with less anaesthetist workload and reduced local anaesthetic consumption as compared with PCEA without a background infusion.