Ultrasound-guided continuous thoracic paravertebral block provides comparable analgesia and fewer episodes of hypotension than continuous epidural block after lung surgery

Hanae Okajima, Osamu Tanaka, Masahiro Ushio, Yasuko Higuchi, Yukiko Nagai, Katsuhiro Iijima, Yoshio Horikawa, Kazuko Ijichi
Journal of Anesthesia 2015, 29 (3): 373-378

PURPOSE: Both paravertebral block (PVB) and thoracic epidural block (TEB) are recommended for postoperative pain relief after lung surgery. The addition of fentanyl to the anesthetic solution became popular for TEB because of the stronger effects; however, there have been few comparable trials about the addition of fentanyl to PVB. The purpose of this study was thus to compare postoperative analgesia, side effects, and complications between ultrasound-guided PVB (USG-PVB) and TEB with the addition of fentanyl to ropivacaine after lung surgery.

METHODS: We examined 90 consecutive patients (age 18-75 years) scheduled for video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS). In both groups, all blocks (four blocks in USG-PVB and one block in TEB) and one catheter insertion were performed preoperatively. Continuous postoperative infusion (0.1% ropivacaine plus fentanyl at 0.4 mg/day) was undertaken for 36 h in both groups. The recorded data included the verbal rating scale (VRS) for pain, blood pressure, side effects, complications for 2 days, and overall satisfaction score.

RESULTS: There was no difference in the frequency of taking supplemental analgesics (twice or more frequently), or in VRS. Hypotension occurred significantly more frequently in TEB (n = 7/33) than in PVB (n = 1/36) (P = 0.02); on the other hand, the incidences of PONV and pruritus, as well as overall satisfaction score, were similar. There were no complications in both groups; however, the catheters migrated intrathoracically in four patients in PVB.

CONCLUSION: USG-PVB achieved similar pain relief and lowered the incidence of hypotension compared with TEB. We conclude that both blocks with the same concentration of ropivacaine and fentanyl can provide adequate postoperative analgesia for VATS.

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