Objective: To compare the incidence of postoperative complications and opioid pain medication usage in gynecologic oncology patients who did and did not receive an epidural prior to undergoing exploratory laparotomy. Methods: Retrospective cohort study of all patients undergoing exploratory laparotomy with the gynecologic oncology division at Washington University in St Louis between January 2012 and October 2015. Data on demographics, pathology, postoperative pain and opioid use, and incidence of postoperative complications were collected. Results: Five hundred and sixty-one patients underwent laparotomy, 305 with an epidural and 256 without. Patients with an epidural used significantly less hydromorphone in the post-anesthesia care unit (PACU) (p = 0.003) and on postoperative day (POD)#1 (p = 0.05), less total opioids on POD#0 (p < 0.01), and more non-opioid pain medication on POD#1–3 (p < 0.01). Patients with an epidural had lower pain scores in the PACU (p = 0.01), on POD#0 (p < 0.01), POD#1 (p < 0.01), and POD#3 (p = 0.03). Patients with epidurals had shorter hospital length of stay (p < 0.01), no difference in hospital readmission or incidence of venous thromboembolism up to 90 days postoperatively, longer duration of Foley catheter (20.4 vs 10.3 h, p = 0.02) with no difference in postoperative urinary tract infection, higher incidence of postoperative hypotension (63% vs 36.3%, p < 0.01), and lower incidence of wound complications (5% vs 14.1%, p < 0.01). Conclusions: Perioperative epidurals used in patients undergoing major abdominal surgery correlate with decreased postoperative opioid use, increased use of non-opioid pain medications, and improved pain relief postoperatively with acceptable postoperative risks and should be standard of care for these patients.