Epidural anesthesia and cancer outcomes in bladder cancer patients: is it the technique or the medication? A matched-cohort analysis from a tertiary referral center

Juan Chipollini, Brandon Alford, David C. Boulware, Patrice Forget, Scott M. Gilbert, Jorge L. Lockhart, Julio M. Pow-Sang, Wade J. Sexton, Philippe E. Spiess, Michael A. Poch, Sephalie Y. Patel

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© 2018 The Author(s). Background: The perioperative period can be a critical period with long-term implications on cancer-related outcomes. In this study, we evaluate the influence of regional anesthesia on cancer-specific outcomes in a radical cystectomy (RC) cohort of patients. Methods: We performed a retrospective analysis of patients with clinically-nonmetastatic urothelial carcinoma of the bladder who underwent RC at our institution from 2008 to 2012. Patients were retrospectively registered and stratified based on two anesthetic techniques: perioperative epidural analgesia with general anesthesia (epidural) versus general anesthesia alone (GA). Epidural patients received a sufentanil-based regimen (median intraoperative sufentanil dose 50 mcg (45,85). Propensity-score was used to make 1:1 case-control matching. Cumulative risk of recurrence with competing risks was calculated based on anesthetic technique. Kaplan-Meier curves were used to compare recurrence-free (RFS) and cancer-specific survival (CSS). Univariable and multivariable analyses were performed with Cox proportional hazard regression models for RFS and CSS. Results: Only patients with complete data on anesthetic technique were included. Out of 439 patients, 215-pair samples with complete follow-up were included in the analysis. Median follow-up was 41.4 months (range: 0.20-101). Patients with epidurals received higher median total intravenous morphine equivalents (ivMEQ) versus those in the GA group (75 (11-235) vs. 50 ivMEQ (7-277), p <0.0001). Cumulative risk of recurrence at two years was 25.2% (19.6, 31.2) for epidural patients vs. 20.0% (15.0, 25.7) for GA patients (Gray test p = 0.0508). Epidural analgesic technique was a significant predictor of worse RFS (adjusted HR = 1.67, 1.14-2.45; p = 0.009) and CSS (HR = 1.53, 1.04-2.25; p = 0.030) on multivariable analyses. Conclusions: Epidural anesthesia using sufentanil was associated with worse recurrence and disease-free survival in bladder cancer patients treated with surgery. This may be due use of epidural sufentanil or due to the increased total morphine equivalents patient received as a consequence of this drug.
Original languageEnglish
Article number157
Publication statusPublished - 3 Nov 2018



  • Cystectomy
  • Epidural anesthesia
  • Perioperative period
  • Retrospective review

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