Optimal duration of urinary catheterization after thoracotomy in patients under postoperative patient-controlled epidural analgesia.

Research paper by Yuan-Yi YY Chia, Ren-Jye RJ Wei, Huang-Chou HC Chang, Kang K Liu

Indexed on: 18 Dec '09Published on: 18 Dec '09Published in: Acta Anaesthesiologica Taiwanica


Epidural analgesia is widely used for efficient pain relief after major surgery. However, it may cause urinary retention, leading to delayed removal of bladder catheters with prolonged patient discomfort. Using a specific regimen in patient controlled epidural analgesia (PCEA), we examined the optimal duration of urinary catheterization in patients undergoing major thoracic surgery.Seventy-eight patients scheduled for elective thoracotomy were prospectively randomized into two groups: Group 1, removal of the transurethral catheter on the first postoperative day (n = 38); Group 2, removal of the catheter after discontinuation of PCEA (n = 40). The PCEA regimen was a mixture containing low-dose morphine, bupivacaine and neostigmine and was given for 3 days after surgery in all subjects. Micturition problems, pain scores assessed by the visual analog scale (VAS), and side effects were evaluated during and after PCEA treatment.The average duration of urinary drainage after surgery was 30.2 + or - 5.1 hours and 78.5 + or - 7.3 hours in Groups 1 and 2, respectively. After removal of the bladder catheter, no patient in either group required re-catheterization for urinary retention or encountered catheter-related infection. VAS scores were significantly lower in Group 1 at rest and at 24, 36 and 48 hours after cessation of PCEA. VAS scores were significantly higher in Group 2 patients, possibly due to catheter-induced pain related to prolonged catheterization.Routine continuous bladder catheterization may not necessarily be required after thoracotomy in patients with ongoing continuous thoracic epidural analgesia.