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Neuraxial Anesthesia and Intraoperative Bilevel Positive Airway Pressure in a Patient With Severe Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and Obstructive Sleep Apnea Undergoing Elective Sigmoid Resection
  1. Miroslava Kapala, MD*,
  2. Sarkis Meterissian, MD, MSc and
  3. Thomas Schricker, MD, PhD*
  1. From the Departments of *Anaesthesia and
  2. Surgery, Royal Victoria Hospital, McGill University Health Centre, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
  1. Address correspondence to: Thomas Schricker, MD, PhD, Department of Anaesthesia, Royal Victoria Hospital, Room C5.20, 687 Pine Ave West, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H3H 1A1 (e-mail: thomas.schricker{at}


Objective: This case report describes the anesthetic management of a patient with severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) who underwent elective sigmoid resection under combined spinal-epidural anesthesia and bilevel positive airway pressure (BiPAP).

Case Report: A 63-year-old man with diverticular disease presented for a sigmoid resection. His medical history included coronary artery bypass grafting, diabetes mellitus, gastroesophageal reflux, chronic renal failure, COPD, a paralyzed left hemidiaphragm, and OSA treated with nighttime BiPAP and oxygen. Sigmoid resection was performed under combined lumbar spinal-thoracic epidural anesthesia without general anesthesia and/or endotracheal intubation (intrathecal 3.5 mL isobaric bupivacaine 0.5% with 100 μg epinephrine and 200 μg morphine [Epimorph], epidural 60 mg bupivacaine, and 200 mg lidocaine). Intravenous ketamine was administered at a rate between 30 and 50 mg/h. Intraoperative BiPAP was applied using a setting of 12.5/8mm Hg with a backup ventilation rate of 10 breaths/min and an oxygen flow of 4 L/min. After surgery, epidural bupivacaine (0.1%) was infused over 3 days at 10ml/hr supplemented with oral acetaminophen, resulting in excellent pain relief. Postoperatively, the patient continued to use BiPAP when sleeping, and no adverse respiratory events were observed. The patient was discharged home 5 days after surgery.

Conclusion: Combined spinal-epidural anesthesia was successfully used in a patient with COPD and OSA undergoing sigmoid resection. Perioperative administration of BiPAP, excellent pain control by continuous epidural infusion of local anesthetic, and the avoidance of endotracheal intubation may have contributed to this patient's uncomplicated postoperative course.

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  • Dr. Schricker is supported by grants from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Fonds de la Recherche en Sante du Quebec.