In a double-blind, randomized study, epidural infusions of low-dose morphine (0.2 mg/h) combined with low-dose bupivacaine (10 mg/h) were compared with epidural infusions of low-dose morphine (0.2 mg/h) alone for postoperative analgesia at rest and during mobilization and cough in 24 patients after elective major abdominal surgery. All patients in addition received systemic piroxicam (20 mg daily). No significant differences were observed between the groups at any assessment of pain at rest (P greater than 0.05), whereas pain in the morphine/bupivacaine group was significantly reduced during mobilization from the supine into the sitting position 12 and 30 h after surgical incision and during cough 8, 12, and 30 h after surgical incision (P less than 0.05). We conclude, that low-dose epidural bupivacaine potentiates postoperative low-dose epidural morphine analgesia during mobilization and cough. Evaluation of postoperative analgesic regimens should include assessment of pain during various activities as different analgesics may have differential effects on pain at rest and during mobilization.
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