Safety and efficacy of patient controlled epidural analgesia following pediatric spinal surgery

Sonja Saudan, Walid Habre, Dimitri Ceroni, Pierre Alain Meyer, Robert S. Greenberg, André Kaelin, Britta S. Von Ungern-Sternberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Background: Patient controlled epidural analgesia (PCEA) is uncommon in pediatric anesthesia. Because PCEA offers superior pain control compared with continuous epidural infusions in adults, we prospectively evaluated the analgesia efficacy and safety of PCEA in children and adolescents following extensive spinal surgery. Methods: Following ethics committee approval, 100 consecutive children [age median (range) 14 (6-19) years] undergoing spinal surgery were studied until the seventh postoperative day, and 98 children received a PCEA. One or two epidural catheters were positioned under direct vision by the surgeon based on the number of vertebral segments operated upon. The epidural solution consisted of bupivacaine 0.0625%, fentanyl 1 μg·ml-1 and clonidine 0.6 μg·ml-1, delivered at a basal rate of 0.2 ml·kg-1·h-1 and a PCEA dose of 0.1 ml·kg-1·h-1(max. 2 h-1). On the fourth postoperative day, PCEA was stopped and analgesia was continued with patient controlled analgesia (PCA) with morphine. Results: During the PCEA regimen, the maximal scores of the revized facial scale were below 4 at rest with a very high satisfaction rate (>90%). Pain scores were higher during mobilization on the first postoperative day and when PCEA was switched to PCA. The overall incidence of adverse events was low and consisted primarily of technical problems and postoperative nausea and vomiting. Only two children experienced a complication requiring the discontinuation of the PCEA but there were no consequent adverse sequelae. Conclusions: The present study demonstrates that PCEA provides excellent pain relief following extensive spinal surgery and is associated with a low incidence of adverse events. The use of PCEA should be encouraged in children and adolescents following extensive spinal surgery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)132-139
Number of pages8
JournalPaediatric anaesthesia
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2008


  • Bupivacaine
  • Patient controlled epidural analgesia
  • Scoliosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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