Children undergoing major orthopedic surgery of the lower extremities can experience severe postoperative pain; yet, the ideal postoperative pain management strategy is unknown. Thus, in this patient population, they investigated the effect of intraoperative epidural infusion of local anesthetic on acute postoperative pain and analgesic consumption.

Patients (N=50, 3–12 years) randomly received either ropivacaine 0.15% (preemptive group) or normal saline (control group) as an initial bolus of 0.2 mL/kg, followed by continuous infusion of 0.15 mL/kg/h throughout surgery. Following surgery, patient-controlled epidural analgesia with ropivacaine 0.1% was provided.

The main study outcomes were the revised Face, Legs, Activity, Cry, and Consolability pain scores, epidural ropivacaine consumption, and additional analgesic requirements during the first 48 hours postoperatively.

Postanesthesia Care Unit

Forty-seven patients completed the study, 23 in the preemptive group and 24 in the control group, respectively. The revised Face, Legs, Activity, Cry, and Consolability pain scores were significantly lower in the preemptive group only at 30 minutes after postanesthesia care unit arrival and 6 hours after surgery (median difference –1.0, 95% CI –2.0 to –1.0, P=0.001 and median difference –2.0, 95% CI –3.0 to –1.0, P=0.005, respectively).

Epidural Analgesia

However, they were not significantly different between the groups at 12, 24, and 48 hours postoperatively. Epidural ropivacaine consumption and additional analgesic requirements throughout 48 hours postoperatively were not significantly different between the groups.

Intraoperative epidural infusion of ropivacaine did not demonstrate preemptive analgesic efficacy within 48 hours postoperatively in children undergoing extensive lower limb orthopedic surgery.