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Combinations of Bupivacaine, Fentanyl and Clonidine for Lumbar Epidural Postoperative Analgesia - A Novel Optimization Procedure


G. Sveticic, A. Gentilini, U. Eichenberger, E. Zanderigo, V. Sartori, M. Luginbühl, M. Curatolo

Anesthesiology, vol. 101, pp. 1381-93

Background: The authors developed and applied a method to optimize the combination of bupivacaine, fentanyl, and clonidine for continuous postoperative lumbar epidural analgesia. Methods: One hundred eighteen patients undergoing knee or hip surgery participated in the study. Postoperative epidural analgesia during 48 h after surgery was optimized under restrictions dictated by side effects. Initially, eight combinations of bupivacaine, fentanyl, and clonidine (expressed as drug concentration in the solution administered) were empirically chosen and investigated. To determine subsequent combinations, an optimization model was applied until three consecutive steps showed no decrease in pain score. For the first time in a clinical investigation, a regression model was applied when the optimization procedure led to combinations associated with unacceptable side effects. Results: The authors analyzed 12 combinations with an allowed bupivacaine concentration range of 0–2.5 mg/ml, a fentanyl concentration range of 0–5 microg/ml, and a clonidine concentration range of 0–5 microg/ml. The best combinations of bupivacaine, fentanyl, and clonidine concentrations were 1.0 mg/ml–1.4 microg/ml–0.5 microg/ml, 0.9 mg/ml–3.0 microg/ml–0.3 microg/ ml, 0.6 mg/ml–2.5 microg/ml–0.8 microg/ml, and 1.0 mg/ml–2.4 microg/ml– 1.0 microg/ml, respectively, all producing a similarly low pain score. The incidence of side effects was low. The application of the regression model to combinations associated with high incidence of motor block successfully directed the optimization procedure to combinations within the therapeutic range. Conclusions: The results support further study of the combinations of bupivacaine, fentanyl, and clonidine mentioned above for postoperative analgesia after knee and hip surgery. This novel optimization method may be useful in clinical research.


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M. Curatolo

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% Autogenerated BibTeX entry
@Article { SveEtal:2004:IFA_1859,
    author={G. Sveticic and A. Gentilini and U. Eichenberger and E. Zanderigo and V. Sartori and M. Luginb{\"u}hl and M. Curatolo},
    title={{Combinations of Bupivacaine, Fentanyl and Clonidine for
	  Lumbar Epidural Postoperative Analgesia - A Novel
	  Optimization Procedure}},
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