Background: This preliminary randomized controlled study evaluated effect of thoracic epidural block (TEB) on progression of acute pancreatitis induced organ dysfunction/failure.
Materials and Methods: Patients with predicted severe acute pancreatitis, without contraindication to TEB were randomized to receive (group TE) or not receive a TEB (group NTE) (n = 16 each). For group TE, TEB was performed at T8-9 or T9-10 vertebral level, with infusion of ropivacaine (0.2%) along with fentanyl 2 μg/mL; in group NTE, intravenous morphine was used instead, both interventions titrated to NRS of <4. SOFA score was assessed daily till discharge from ICU, and aggregate SOFA calculated by summing worst scores for each of organ system during ICU stay as primary outcome measure. Other surrogate measures of patient outcome were recorded as secondary objectives.
Results: Aggregate SOFA score was statistically similar between both groups (group NTE: 3 [2 - 4]; group TE: 5 [2 - 6]) (P = 0.379); but there was trend of improvement in SOFA score in group TE versus a worsening in group NTE. Duration of hospital stay, and number of patients requiring mechanical ventilation were statistically similar; mortality was insignificantly lesser for group TE (12.5% versus 6.6%; p = 1.000). Fall in serum procalcitonin was significantly greater for group TE.
Conclusion: Thoracic epidural was associated with insignificant clinical trend towards better organ functions and lesser mortality; along with significantly greater fall in serum procalcitonin. These are encouraging results that could guide future use of thoracic epidural in acute pancreatitis for its non-analgesic benefits.
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