Journal of Neurosciences in Rural Practice
Year : 2017  |  Volume : 8  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 55-59

Epidural tramadol via intraoperatively placed catheter as a standalone analgesic after spinal fusion procedure: An analysis of efficacy and cost

1 Department of Neurosurgery, Saveetha Medical College and Hospital, Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu, India
2 Department of Anaesthesiology, Saveetha Medical College and Hospital, Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu, India

Correspondence Address:
Vijaysundar Ilangovan
No. 6 Bharathi Nagar, 1st Street, North Usman Road, T. Nagar, Chennai - 600 017, Tamil Nadu
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0976-3147.193535

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Objective: This was a prospective analysis of epidural tramadol as a single analgesic agent delivered through intraoperatively placed epidural catheter for postoperative pain relief after spinal fusion procedures in terms of efficacy and cost. Materials and Methods: Twenty patients who underwent spinal fusion procedures were included in the study. After completion of the procedure, an epidural catheter was placed at the highest level of exposed dura and brought out through a separate tract. Postoperatively, tramadol was infused into the epidural space via the catheter at a dose of 1 mg/kg diluted in 10 ml of saline. The dosage frequency was arbitrarily fixed at every 6 h during the first 2 days and thereafter reduced to every 8 h after the first 2 days till day 5. Conventional intravenous analgesics were used only if additional analgesia was required as assessed by visual analog scale (VAS). Results: Patients' VAS score was assessed every 4 h from the day of surgery. Patients with a VAS score of 6 or more were given additional analgesia in the form of intravenous paracetamol. Of the twenty patients, eight patients needed additional analgesia during the first 24 h and none required additional analgesia after the first 24 h. The median VAS score was 7 within the first 24 h and progressively declined thereafter. Epidural tramadol was noted to be many times cheaper than conventional parenteral analgesics. Conclusion: Epidural tramadol infusion is safe and effective as a standalone analgesic after open spinal fusion surgery, especially after the 1st postoperative day. Intraoperative placement of the epidural catheter is a simple way of delivering tramadol to the epidural space. The cost of analgesia after spinal fusion surgery can be reduced significantly using epidural tramadol alone.

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