Comparison between intermittent intravenous analgesia and intermittent paravertebral subpleural analgesia for pain relief after thoracotomy

Hidir Esme, Burhan Apiliogullari, Ferdane Melike Duran, Banu Yoldas, Taha Tahir Bekci
European Journal of Cardio-thoracic Surgery 2012, 41 (1): 10-3

OBJECTIVE: In the present prospective double-blind randomized trial, the effects of intermittent paravertebral subpleural bupivacaine and morphine on pain management in patients undergoing thoracotomy were evaluated and compared with intermittent systemic analgesia.

METHODS: Forty-five patients undergoing elective lobectomy were included in the present study. Three randomized groups consisting of 15 patients each were compared. Those in the control group were administered intravenously with tramadol 100 mg plus metamizol 1000 mg every 4 h for 3 days. We placed the catheter just below the parietal pleura along the paravertebral sulcus at the level of T5-T7. At the end of the operation and every 4 h thereafter, the patients received either 1.5 mg kg(-1) bupivacaine (bupivacaine group) or 0.2 mg kg(-1) morphine sulfate (morphine group) with paravertebral subpleural catheter for 3 days. Data regarding demographics, visual analog pain scores, need for supplementary intravenous analgesia, pulmonary function tests, and postoperative pulmonary complications were recorded for each patient.

RESULTS: Visual analog pain scores (visual analog scale (VAS)) were lower in the morphine and bupivacaine groups compared with control group at all postoperative time points. The mean postoperative VAS was significantly different between the control and bupivacaine groups at postoperative hour 12, the control and morphine groups at postoperative hours 6, 12, 48, and 72, and the bupivacaine and morphine groups at postoperative hours 6 and 24 (p<0.05). In the control group, additional analgesic requirement was significantly higher than in the bupivacaine and morphine groups (p<0.05). Postoperative pulmonary complications occurred in three patients (20%) in the control group, in two patients (13%) in the bupivacaine group, and in one (6%) in the morphine group.

CONCLUSIONS: The patients undergoing lung resection through a thoracotomy were observed with reduced postoperative pain and better surgical outcomes with respect to the length of hospital stay, postoperative forced expiratory volume in the first second, pulmonary complications, and need for bronchoscopic management, when paravertebral subpleural analgesia was induced by morphine.

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