Analgesic efficacy and safety of thoracic paravertebral and epidural analgesia for thoracic surgery: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Dalim Kumar Baidya, Puneet Khanna, Souvik Maitra
Interactive Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery 2014, 18 (5): 626-35
Though once considered the gold standard, epidural anaesthesia has complications that may be significant and include hypotension, urinary retention, partial or patchy block and, in rare cases, devastating neurological injuries also. Paravertebral block (PVB) is an alternative technique for unilateral surgical procedures like thoracotomy, which may offer similar analgesic effectiveness and a more favourable side-effect profile than epidural analgesia. This systematic review and meta-analysis of published randomized clinical trials aims to compare thoracic paravertebral with thoracic epidural analgesia (TEA) in thoracotomy for lung surgery. Five hundred and forty-one patients from 12 clinical trials have been included in this systematic review and meta-analysis. We found that visual analogue scale (VAS) scores at rest and during activity/coughing at 4-8, 24 and 48 h postoperatively were similar in both the PVB and TEA groups. Considering studies not included in the previous meta-analysis, a VAS score on activity at 48 h is significantly better in the PVB group (mean difference 0.40 cm; 95% confidence interval [95% CI] 0.77, 0.02; Mantel-Haenszel (M-H) fixed). Hypotension (odds ratio 0.13; 95% CI 0.06, 0.31; M-H fixed) and urinary retention are more common in the epidural analgesia group. So, we conclude that thoracic PVB may be as effective as thoracic epidural analgesia for post-thoracotomy pain relief and is also associated with fewer complications.

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