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BACKGROUND: Although continuous wound infusion (CWI) with local anaesthetic has been used as an adjunct for pain relief following laparotomy, its use as the main modality has not been studied. This approach negates side effects related to intravenous opioid administration, therefore promoting enhanced recovery from surgery. We conducted this study to investigate the feasibility and efficacy of CWI following laparotomy. METHODS: Consecutive patients who underwent laparotomy from June 2016 to December 2019 were analysed. All patients were given CWI with only oral supplementation. Pain was assessed based on the numeric rating scale (NRS). RESULTS: One hundred and three patients were analysed. Mean age was 61.1 (standard deviation 16.7). 47.6% of patients were operated for intestinal obstruction. Large bowel resection was the most common operation performed (49.5%). 69.9% of patients underwent emergency surgery, whilst 51.5% of patients had surgery for cancer. On postoperative day 0, NRS was 3.2 (standard deviation (sd) 2.6) which decreased to 1.5 (sd 1.9) on day 3, and 1.1 (sd 1.8) on day 5. Mean time to flatus was 2.3 (sd 1.4) days, whilst mean time to first bowel movement was 3.1 (sd 1.7) days. Patients were able to commence ambulation by 2.5 (sd 1.8) days. Patients could tolerate a normal diet on day 3.9 (sd 3.3), and IV drip was removed on day 3.5 (sd 3.0). Mean length of stay was 9.1 (sd 6.9) days. Only two patients suffered from respiratory depression (1.9%) whilst five patients suffered from hypotension (4.9%). No patients had pruritus. 23.3% of patients had nausea or vomiting. Only one patient had a catheter-related complication which was easily addressed. CONCLUSION: CWI provides adequate pain relief as the principle modality of analgesia after surgery, without opioid side effects.

Original publication




Journal article


Langenbecks Arch Surg

Publication Date





413 - 418


Analgesia, Continuous wound infusion, Opioid toxicity, Pain, Analgesia, Analgesics, Opioid, Anesthetics, Local, Colectomy, Humans, Laparotomy, Middle Aged, Morphine, Pain, Postoperative, Ropivacaine