A Nationwide Analysis of the Use and Outcomes of Epidural Analgesia in Open Colorectal Surgery

Wissam J Halabi, Mehraneh D. Jafari, Vinh Q. Nguyen, Joseph C. Carmichael, Steven Mills, Michael J. Stamos, Alessio Pigazzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Introduction: Epidural analgesia has demonstrated superiority over conventional analgesia in controlling pain following open colorectal resections. Controversy exists regarding cost-effectiveness and postoperative outcomes. Methods: The Nationwide Inpatient Sample (2002-2010) was retrospectively reviewed for elective open colorectal surgeries performed for benign and malignant conditions with or without the use of epidural analgesia. Multivariate regression analysis was used to compare outcomes between epidural and conventional analgesia. Results: A total 888,135 patients underwent open colorectal resections. Epidural analgesia was only used in 39,345 (4.4 %) cases. Epidurals were more likely to be used in teaching hospitals and rectal cancer cases. On multivariate analysis, in colonic cases, epidural analgesia lowered hospital charges by US$4,450 (p < 0.001) but was associated with longer length of stay by 0.16 day (p < 0.05) and a higher incidence of ileus (OR = 1.17; p < 0.01). In rectal cases, epidural analgesia was again associated with lower hospital charges by US$4,340 (p < 0.001) but had no effect on ileus and length of stay. The remaining outcomes such as mortality, respiratory failure, pneumonia, anastomotic leak, urinary tract infection, and retention were unaffected by the use of epidurals. Conclusion: Epidural analgesia in open colorectal surgery is safe but does not add major clinical benefits over conventional analgesia. It appears however to lower hospital charges.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1130-1137
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Gastrointestinal Surgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 1 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Analgesia
  • Anastomotic leak
  • Charge
  • Colorectal
  • Epidural
  • Ileus
  • Length of stay
  • Nationwide Inpatient Sample
  • Open surgery
  • Outcomes research
  • Pneumonia
  • Respiratory failure
  • Urinary retention
  • Urinary tract infection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Gastroenterology


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