Regional versus systemic analgesia in video-assisted thoracoscopic lobectomy: a retrospective analysis

Benedikt Haager, Daniel Schmid, Joerg Eschbach, Bernward Passlick, Torsten Loop
BMC Anesthesiology 2019 October 17, 19 (1): 183

BACKGROUND: The optimal perioperative analgesic strategy in video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) for anatomic lung resections remains an open issue. Regional analgesic concepts as thoracic paravertebral or epidural analgesia were used as systemic opioid application. We hypothesized that regional anesthesia would provide improved analgesia compared to systemic analgesia with parenteral opioids in VATS lobectomy and would be associated with a lower incidence of pulmonary complications.

METHODS: The study was approved by the local ethics committee (AZ 99/15) and registered (; DRKS00007529, 10th June 2015). A retrospective analysis of anesthetic and surgical records between July 2014 und February 2016 in a single university hospital with 103 who underwent VATS lobectomy. Comparison of regional anesthesia (i.e. thoracic paravertebral blockade (group TPVB) or thoracic epidural anesthesia (group TEA)) with a systemic opioid application (i.e. patient controlled analgesia (group PCA)). The primary endpoint was the postoperative pain level measured by Visual Analog Scale (VAS) at rest and during coughing during 120 h. Secondary endpoints were postoperative pulmonary complications (i.e. atelectasis, pneumonia), hemodynamic variables and postoperative nausea and vomiting (PONV).

RESULTS: Mean VAS values in rest or during coughing were measured below 3.5 in all groups showing effective analgesic therapy throughout the observation period. The VAS values at rest were comparable between all groups, VAS level during coughing in patients with PCA was higher but comparable except after 8-16 h postoperatively (PCA vs. TEA; p < 0.004). There were no significant differences on secondary endpoints. Intraoperative Sufentanil consumption was significantly higher for patients without regional anesthesia (p < 0.0001 vs. TPVB and vs. TEA). The morphine equivalence postoperatively applicated until POD 5 was comparable in all groups (mean ± SD in mg: 32 ± 29 (TPVB), 30 ± 27 (TEA), 36 ± 30 (PCA); p = 0.6046).

CONCLUSIONS: Analgesia with TEA, TPVB and PCA provided a comparable and effective pain relief after VATS anatomic resection without side effects. Our results indicate that PCA for VATS lobectomy may be a sufficient alternative compared to regional analgesia.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: The study was registered (; DRKS00007529 ; 10th June, 2015).


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