In patients undergoing thoracic surgery is paravertebral block as effective as epidural analgesia for pain management?

Marco Scarci, Abhishek Joshi, Rizwan Attia
Interactive Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery 2010, 10 (1): 92-6
A best evidence topic in cardiac surgery was written according to a structured protocol. The question addressed was: in patients undergoing thoracic surgery is paravertebral block (PVB) as effective as epidural analgesia for pain management? Altogether >184 papers were found using the reported search, seven of which represented the best evidence to answer the clinical question. All studies agreed that PVB is at least as effective as epidural analgesia for pain control post-thoracotomy. In one paper, the visual analogue pain score (VAS) at rest and on cough was significantly lower in the paravertebral group (P=0.02 and 0.0001, respectively). Pulmonary function, as assessed by peak expiratory flow rate (PEFR), was significantly better preserved in the paravertebral group. The lowest PEFR as a fraction of preoperative control was 0.73 in the paravertebral group in contrast with 0.54 in the epidural group (P<0.004). Oximetric recordings were better in the paravertebral group (96%) compared to the epidural group (95%) (P=0.0001). Another article reported that statistically significant differences (forced vital capacity 46.8% for PVB and 39.3% for epidural group P<0.05; forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV(1)) 48.4% in PVB group and 35.9% in epidural group, P<0.05) were reached in day 2 and continued until day 3. Plasma concentrations of cortisol, as marker of postoperative stress, increased markedly in both groups, but the increment was statistically different in favour of the paravertebral group (P=0.003). Epidural block was associated with frequent side-effects [urinary retention (42%), nausea (22%), itching (22%) and hypotension (3%) and, rarely, respiratory depression (0.07%)]. Additionally, it prolonged operative time and was associated with technical failure or displacement (8%). Epidurals were also related to a higher complication rate (atelectasis/pneumonia) compared to the PVB (2 vs. 0). PVB was found to be of equal efficacy to epidural anaesthesia, but with a favourable side effect profile, and lower complication rate. The reduced rate of complication was most marked for pulmonary complications and is accompanied by quicker return to normal pulmonary function. We conclude intercostal analgesia, in the form of PVB, can be at least as effective as epidural analgesia.

Full Text Links

Find Full Text Links for this Article


You are not logged in. Sign Up or Log In to join the discussion.

Related Papers

Remove bar
Read by QxMD icon Read

Save your favorite articles in one place with a free QxMD account.


Search Tips

Use Boolean operators: AND/OR

diabetic AND foot
diabetes OR diabetic

Exclude a word using the 'minus' sign

Virchow -triad

Use Parentheses

water AND (cup OR glass)

Add an asterisk (*) at end of a word to include word stems

Neuro* will search for Neurology, Neuroscientist, Neurological, and so on

Use quotes to search for an exact phrase

"primary prevention of cancer"
(heart or cardiac or cardio*) AND arrest -"American Heart Association"