Subcutaneous analgesic system versus epidural for post-operative pain control in surgical pediatric oncology patients

Brittany L. Johnson, Hannah F. Todd, Sanjeev A. Vasudevan, Jed G. Nuchtern, Nihar V. Patel, Bindi J. Naik-Mathuria

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background/Purpose: Pediatric oncology patients often undergo open operations for tumor resection, and epidural catheters are commonly utilized for pain control. Our purpose was to evaluate whether a subcutaneous analgesic system (SAS) provides equivalent post-operative pain control. Methods: An IRB approved, retrospective chart review of children age < 18 undergoing open abdominal, pelvic or thoracic surgery for tumor resection between 2017 and 2019 who received either epidural or SAS for post-operative pain control was performed. Comparisons of morphine milligram equivalents (MME), pain scores, and post-operative course were made using parametric and non-parametric analyses. Results: Of 101 patients, median age was 7 years (2 months–17.9 years). There were 65 epidural and 36 SAS patients. Transverse laparotomy was the most common incision (41%), followed by thoracotomy (29%). Pain scores, MME, urinary catheter days, and post-operative length of stay (LOS) were similar between the two groups. Urinary catheter use was more common in epidural patients (70% vs 30%, p = < 0.001). SAS patients had faster time to ambulation and time to regular diet by 1 day (p = 0.02). Epidural patients more commonly had a complication with the pain device (20% vs 3%, p = 0.02) and were more likely to be discharged with narcotics (60% vs. 40%, p = 0.04). Charges associated with the hospital stay were similar between the two groups. Conclusion: In pediatric oncology patients undergoing open abdominal, pelvic, and thoracic surgery, SAS may provide similar pain control to epidural, but with faster post-operative recovery, fewer complications, and less discharge narcotic use. A prospective study is needed to validate these results.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)104-109
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Pediatric Surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Epidural
  • Post-operative pain control
  • Subcutaneous analgesic system
  • Surgical oncology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Surgery


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