It has been suggested that PCEA compared with continuous epidural infusions (CEIs) optimizes pain control by allowing the patient to "top up" themselves when there is an increase in their pain or in anticipation of a painful event (e.g., prior to getting out of bed or physical therapy) as opposed to having to wait for a health-care provider. Some studies have shown that PCEA compared to CEI provides improved analgesia, whereas others have only shown a decreased requirement for provider-administered boluses. Data is contradictory in terms of which, PCEA or CEI, provides improved analgesia, but PCEA has been suggested to improve patient satisfaction, and PCEA does reduce the total amount of analgesics required. Additionally, PCEA has a decreased risk of motor block and nausea but an increased incidence of pruritus when compared to CEI.
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