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Postoperative Epidural Pain Control

Postoperative Epidurals are used for pain control following:

  • Colon removal through an open incision
  • Extensive pelvic surgery
  • Surgery on the lungs through an open incision
  • Certain orthopedic procedures on the legs
  • Any major surgery on the abdomen through an open incision

Epidural pain control is arguably the most effective way to control pain after certain kinds of surgery. When epidural medication is combined with ibuprofen type medications and narcotic pain medications, patients can be made comfortable despite having large incisions. Epidural pain control reduces the amount of narcotic pain medication required and therefore reduces the side effects from those medications. Patients have less sleepiness, less nausea, and earlier return of bowel function. These benefits are achieved while providing superior pain control when compared to narcotic pain medication alone.

Insertion of the epidural catheter is a frequently performed procedure that has a low risk of serious complications. If indicated, light sedation is given to reduce anxiety and help you relax during placement. There is mild discomfort during epidural placement similar to placement of an intravenous catheter (IV).

The epidural catheter can be left in after the surgery for several days. A continuous infusion of medication is delivered through the catheter which partially deadens the nerves going to the part of the body operated on.  While the catheter is in place your anesthesiologist or one of his associates will visit you daily to ensure it is working properly and there are no serious side effects or complications. The epidural catheter is usually removed once you are starting to eat food and are able to take oral pain medication. Removal of the catheter is very easy and (once all the tape has been removed) without pain.

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