Keyhole bowel surgery provides the patient with an improved outcome following surgery in comparison to more traditional surgery requiring a large cut. In order to further improve outcomes there are several variables that must be controlled before, during and after the operation. These variables are the correct pain relief, accurate control and measurement of the fluid that is given during the operation and the subsequent mobility following surgery. Previous research has already identified that an enhanced recovery program (careful control and structure to the patients journey) will reduce the length of stay and complications after an operation. Currently an integral part of the enhanced recovery program requires the use of an epidural (a thin tube in the spine) to provide continuous pain relief for up to 48 hours. Through research previously undertaken at the MATTU the investigators have shown that an epidural can lead to an increase in the length of stay and a delay in the return to normal bowel function. A reason for the use of an epidural is to suppress the stress response.
The investigators aim to recruit patients from outpatient clinic undergoing keyhole bowel surgery in one unit and randomize them to receive one of two different pain relief methods after the operation. Patients will follow the same care as standard patients but their pain relief will differ between two already well established modalities. They will also receive different intravenous fluids. Blood will also be drawn at various intervals immediately after the operation for future analysis. The trial will be funded by the MATTU and will run for approximately 18 months. This trial will enable us to establish the stress response in the four groups and correlate it to the patient's outcome with an aim to refining the enhanced recovery program.