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Future of Thoracic Surgery

Awake Epidural Anesthesia for thoracoscopic pleurodesis

On the heels of a recent announcement on CTSnet.org soliciting surgeon input on their experiences with non-general anesthesia for thoracic surgery procedures, Cirugia de torax is revisiting one of the surgeons we interviewed last year, Dr. Mauricio Velasquez at Fundacion Valle de Lili in Cali, Colombia.

Dr. Velasquez in the operating room with Lina Caicedo Quintero (nurse) Valle de Lili, Cali, Colombia

Dr. Velasquez in the operating room with Lina Caicedo Quintero (nurse) Valle de Lili, Cali, Colombia

The trip to Cali was primarily to discuss Dr. Velasquez’s Thoracic Surgery Registry, and to observe him performing several single port surgery cases.  However, during the trip, Dr. Velasquez also spoke about several other aspects of his current practice including some of his recent cases, and the thoracic surgery program at Fundacion Valle de Lili.

Dr. Mauricio Velasquez after another successful case

Dr. Mauricio Velasquez after another successful case

We also talked with his wife, (and lead author), the talented Dra. Cujiño, an anesthesiologist who subspecializes in thoracic anesthesia.   Together, they have successfully performed several thoracic cases using thoracic epidural anesthesia on awake patients.

By chance, they published articles in both  Revista Colombianas de anesthesia and Neumologia y cirugía de torax in the last few weeks.

Revista Colombianas de anesthesia

Patients receiving epidural anesthesia received a small dose of midazolam prior to insertion of epidural needle at the T3 – T4 intervertebral space.  During the case, patients received bolus administration via epidural of 0.5% bupivacaine on a prn basis.

Short surgeries, single port approach

All patients, regardless of anesthesia type underwent single port thoracoscopic surgery for the talc pleurodesis procedure.  Surgery times were brief, averaging 30 to 35 minutes  for all cases (range 25 – 45 minutes) with the epidural patient cases being slightly shorter.

Dr. Mauricio Velasquez performing single port thorascopic surgery

Dr. Mauricio Velasquez performing single port thorascopic surgery

Dramatic reduction in length of stay

In their study, patients receiving awake anesthesia had an average length of stay of four days compared with ten days for the general anesthesia group.

Decreased incidence of post-operative complications

There was a marked reduction in the incidence of post-operative respiratory complications (19 in general anesthesia group) versus 3 patients in the awake anesthesia group.  Post-operative mortality was also decreased (six in general anesthesia) versus two deaths in the awake anesthesia group.  However, the mortality statistics may also be impacted by the overall poor prognosis and median survival time of patients presenting with malignant effusions.

Post-operative pain

Study patients also self-reported less post-operative pain in the awake anesthesia group – with only one patient reporting severe pain versus seven patients in the general anesthesia group.

Conclusions

Cujiño, Velasquez and their team found awake thoracic epidural anesthesia (ATEA) was a safe and effective method for intra-operative anesthesia and was associated with a decreased post-operative pain, decreased length of stay (LOS) and decreased incidence of post-operative complications.

Notes

This study was funded by the authors with no relevant disclosures or outside financial support.

References

Indira F. Cujiño,  Mauricio Velásquez,  Fredy Ariza,  Jhon Harry Loaiza (2013).    Awake epidural anesthesia for thoracoscopic pleurodesis: A prospective cohort studyRev Colomb Anestesiol. 2013;41:10-5.  A 36 month study involving 47 cancer patients comparing (standard) general anesthesia outcomes with awake epidural anesthesia.

en Espanol: Anestesia epidural para pleurodesis por toracoscopia: un estudio prospectivo de cohort.

The second article has not been posted online yet.  Look for updates in the coming weeks.

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About K Eckland

World of Thoracic Surgery is a blog about the work, research, and practices of thoracic surgeons around the world. It includes case studies, [sometimes] dry research, interviews with thoracic surgeons along with patient perspectives, and feedback.

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