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AIM: The thoracic paravertebral block (PVB), a technique of post-thoracotomy analgesia of similar effectiveness as continuous epidural analgesia (CEA) but with a better safety profile, is underutilized in current practice. This study compares the outcome of post-lobectomy patients in relation to the analgesic method used: parenteral analgesia (PA) vs. PVB + PA, and provides justification for the routine use of PVB in all patients where CEA is contraindicated.
METHODS: We randomized 213 consecutive patients undergoing open lobectomy to benefit from two different protocols of postoperative analgesia: PA vs. PVB +PA. We compared the frequency of cardiac hemodynamic, respiratory, pleural or surgical-related complications.
RESULTS: After lobectomy, the PVB patients (72/213) were found to have a significantly lower frequency of congestive heart failure (7.1%vs.0.0%)(p=0.049), ischemic cardiomyopathy (10.6%vs.0.0%)(p=0.010), pulmonary atelectasis (35%vs.1.1%)(p<0.001), residual pleural space (29.8%vs.15.3%)(p=0.032) and residual intrapleural blood clots (14.9%vs.1.4%)(p=0.005). Other postoperative complications, Intensive Care stay, total hospital stay and mortality rate were less frequent in the PVB group but without reaching statistical significance.
CONCLUSION: The use of SPVB is associated with significant less postoperative complications than PA only. This study suggests that the SPVB might be the ideal choice in post-thoracotomy pain management when CEA cannot be used.