Pre-emptive local anesthesia for needlescopic video-assisted thoracic surgery: a randomized controlled trial

Alan D L Sihoe, Anthony V Manlulu, Tak-Wai Lee, Kin-Hoi Thung, Anthony P C Yim
European Journal of Cardio-thoracic Surgery 2007, 31 (1): 103-8

OBJECTIVE: Studies in other surgical specialties have suggested that pre-emptive wound infiltration using a local anesthetic may reduce post-operative pain. We report the first randomized trial to assess the use of pre-emptive local anesthesia in video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS).

METHOD: Thirty-one consecutive patients undergoing bilateral needlescopic VATS sympathectomy for palmar hyperhidrosis were studied prospectively. Each patient acted as their own control. For each patient, one side was randomized to receive 10ml 0.5% bupivicaine injected to the port sites before incision, and the contralateral control side to receive 10ml saline. Pain severity on a visual analog scale (VAS) was recorded for each chest side at 4h, 1 day and 7 days following surgery. All patients were blinded to the results of randomization throughout the study.

RESULTS: Follow up was complete for all patients. At 7 days after surgery, wound pain was significantly reduced by pre-emptive local anesthesia, with 10 (62.5%) of the 16 patients having residual pain reporting less pain on the pre-treated side (p=0.039). There was a trend for reduced pain on the pre-treated side at the other time points. Pain reduction by pre-emptive local anesthesia was not correlated with any demographic or clinical variable. Chest wall paresthesia distinct from localized wound pain was noted by six patients (19.4%), but was not reduced by pre-emptive local anesthesia. Overall, the post-operative discomforts felt by the patients after needlescopic VATS were mild, and did not cause significant functional disturbances.

CONCLUSION: Pre-emptive wound infiltration with a local anesthetic may reduce post-operative wound pain in needlescopic VATS procedures.

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