Last updated on April 2020

The Impact of an Epidural Anesthetic on the Consumption of Sevoflurane in Major Abdominal Surgery


Brief description of study

Major abdominal surgery - like non-laparoscopic bowel resection, liver, gastric, or pancreas surgery - is performed under general anesthesia. Pain control for after the surgery can be achieved purely with intravenous and oral pain medication or in combination with freezing of the nerves. Nerve freezing (nerve block) placed before surgery has the potential to substantially reduce the amount of inhaled anesthetic given to the patient during surgery. This can benefit the patient with being more awake and crisp more quickly after surgery. It can also reduce cost to the system. A further benefit which has received very little attention so far, is that reducing the amount of inhaled anesthetic given also lowers the environmental footprint created by the anesthetic.

The investigators of the proposed study plan to quantify the amount of inhaled anesthetic used for each case and will compare how the consumption is affected by whether the epidural block is applied before or after surgery. Patients will have a nerve block catheter (epidural catheter) placed prior to the induction of general anesthetic by an experienced regional anesthesiologist. The epidural catheter will be bolused with a solution to which the anesthesiologist is blinded which will either be local anesthetic or dextrose (sham). The general anesthetic will be conducted according to a the protocol with the aim of maintaining a standard anesthetic depth monitored by patient state index (PSI). Measurements of the MAC-Value (minimum alveolar concentration) of inhaled anesthetic will be recorded every five minutes and will be noted down by a blinded observer. At the end of the case the anesthesiologist blinded to the solution will inject another solution (now a dextrose (sham) or local anesthetic before the patient is woken up.

Detailed Study Description

Following ethics approval, eligible patients meeting the inclusion/exclusion criteria will be consented in pre-assessment unit or day surgery ward at least 2 hours prior to their surgery. Patients will then be randomized into two groups:

Epidural catheter insertion with 14 mL of a solution containing 0.125% bupivacaine and 2 mcg/ml sufentanil injection (Treatment group) Epidural catheter insertion with 14 mL normal saline injection (Sham group) The patient, anesthesia provider, data recorder, OR staff and Post Anaesthetic Care Unit (PACU) nurses, will be blinded at the beginning of the case. After randomization, each patient will receive a clear 20 mL syringe containing either the Treatment or the Sham solution. Prior to induction of general anesthesia, an epidural catheter will be inserted by an experienced acute pain physician who has been performing epidural blocks for at least 5 years. Catheter placement will be verified by a single test dose of 60 mg lidocaine to exclude subarachnoid tip location.

Induction of general anesthesia will follow a standardized protocol with the intravenous administration of fentanyl (2 mcg/kg), propofol (2 mg/kg), and rocuronium (0.6 mg/kg). General anesthesia will initially be maintained with sevoflurane at 1.0 age-adjusted Minimal Alveolar Concentration (MAC). Subsequently, the age-adjusted MAC will be titrated to achieve an intraoperative PSI target of 25-50 (Sedline, Masimo), and intraoperative heart rate (HR) and mean blood pressure (MBP) target of +/-30% baseline values. The anaesthesiologist will have the ability to administer IV boluses of analgesic (remifentanil 0.5mcg/kg) at if the PSI is <50 and the MBP or HR is above 30% of baseline. Vasopressors such as phenylephrine (100 mcg IV bolus) and ephedrine (5 mg IV bolus) can be used as last-line therapy to treat hypotension that is unresponsive to MAC adjustments. The age-adjusted MAC value will be recorded every 5 minutes starting at the time of skin incision until the time of skin closure. In addition, intraoperative analgesic and vasopressor usage are recorded. The epidural catheter will be run continuously throughout the surgery with 4-6 ml/h with study drug number 1 as per randomization - so either treatment or sham. After the conclusion of MAC recording and prior to emergence from general anesthesia, the anaesthesiologist will be unblinded to the randomized groups, and the patients who received Sham solution will be given 20 mL of the treatment solution via the interscalene catheter to ensure patients receive adequate analgesia postoperatively.

Postoperatively, patients will be transported to PACU where the distribution of the sensory or motor block will then be checked and recorded 30 minutes after arriving in PACU in both groups. The NRS for pain will also be recorded in PACU at 0, 15, 30 and 45 minutes.

Clinical Study Identifier: NCT04021264

Find a site near you

Start Over

Recruitment Status: Open


Brief Description Eligibility Contact Research Team


Volunteer Sign-up

Sign up for our FREE service to receive email notifications when clinical trials are posted in the medical category of interest to you.