Peri-operative pain management in children with cerebral palsy: Comparative efficacy of epidural vs systemic analgesia protocols

Robert P. Moore, Tracy Wester, Rani Sunder, Charles Schrock, Tae S. Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Introduction Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR) is the only surgical intervention with class I evidence supporting permanent reduction in spasticity for children with cerebral palsy (Paediatr Anaesth, 12, 2002, 296; Neurosurg Focus, 21, 2006, e2). Postoperatively, adequate analgesia can be difficult to achieve (J Neurosurg, 105, 2006, 8; Childs Nerv Syst, 17, 2001, 556; Pediatr Neurosurg, 43, 2007, 107; Anesth Analg, 79, 1994, 340; Reg Anesth Pain Med, 24, 1999, 438; Pediatr Anesth, 19, 2009, 1213). This study examines a novel regimen utilizing the combination of epidurally infused ropivacaine - hydromorphone and scheduled ketorolac. This regimen was compared to a protocol utilizing systemic fentanyl and diazepam. Methods Following IRB approval, 31 patients receiving epidural analgesia were compared with 41 patients who received systemic analgesia. All surgeries were performed by one surgeon with standardized anesthetic and nursing care. Studied outcomes included: pain scores; episodes of severe pain; nausea, itching; oxygen desaturation; and ICU admission. Data were analyzed using Mann-Whitney U-test, CHI square, and Fisher exact test where indicated with P < 0.05 considered significant. Results Studied groups had similar demographics, biometrics and disease burdens. Patients in the epidural group had statistically and clinically significant reductions in peak recorded pain scores for each 4-h period in the first 24 postoperative hours. Severe pain (score >5) was markedly reduced in the epidural group with 9% of epidural patients vs. 68% of systemic patients experiencing at least one episode. Fewer epidural patients experienced oxygen desaturation during the first two postoperative days (6.5% vs. 41%, 6.5% vs. 39%). Conclusion Epidural analgesia resulted in substantial improvements in pain control and safety. The data supports the superiority of a multimodal analgesia approach centered on epidural analgesia. A similar protocol should be considered following simple laminectomies or procedures associated with lower-extremity muscle spasm.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)720-725
Number of pages6
JournalPaediatric Anaesthesia
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2013


  • acute
  • drugs
  • local anesthetics
  • neurological disease
  • neurosurgery
  • pain
  • regional


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