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Pressure Sores as a Complication of Patient-controlled Epidural Analgesia After Cesarean Delivery
  1. Iris G.G. Smet, M.D.*,
  2. Marcel P. Vercauteren, M.D., Ph.D.,
  3. Raf F. De Jongh, M.D.*,
  4. Guy J. M. Vundelinckx, M.D.* and
  5. René J. Heylen, M.D., Ph.D.*
  1. *Department of Anesthesiology, Sint Jansziekenhuis, Schiepse-Bos Genk, Belgium and the
  2. Department of Anesthesiology, University Hospital Antwerp, Edegem, Belgium
  1. Reprint requests: Dr. R. Heylen, Department of Anesthesiology, Sint Jansziekenhuis, Schiepse Bos 2, B-3600 Genk, Belgium.


Background and Objectives Postoperative epidural analgesia using mixtures of bupivacaine and opioids has become common practice following abdominal surgery. Side effects such as hypotension, motor block, respiratory depression, pruritus, and urinary retention are well known. Pressure sores occurring within the first 24 hours are extremely rare.

Methods Three parturients scheduled for cesarean delivery received for postoperative pain relief with a patient-controlled epidural analgesia, consisting of 0.11% bupivacaine, 2 μg/mL sufentanil, 3 μg/mL clonidine, and 1.25 μg/mL epinephrine.

Results Within the first postoperative day pressure sores were observed at one heel. In one patient the coccygeal area was also affected. After discontinuation of the patient-controlled analgesia and local treatment, including application of heel pads, the pressure sores healed uneventfully.

Conclusions Pressure sores following postoperative epidural analgesia may occur even in young patients. Although bupivacaine may induce a motor block, its combination with other drugs in the analgesic mixture or other contributing factors may explain the occurrence of pressure sores. Prophylaxis and increased alertness should eliminate this complication.

  • patient-controlled analgesia
  • skin complications
  • pressure sores
  • epidural analgesia

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