Combined analgesic treatment of epidural and paravertebral block after thoracic surgery
In pulmonary surgical practice, appropriate pain management after thoracotomy is essential for patient recovery and the prevention of complications. Although epidural analgesia (EPI) has been established for chest surgery, it has some limitations and contraindications. Recently, paravertebral block (PVB) was reported as a good alternative method with fewer side effects. Despite the significant effects of these two treatments, postoperative pain remains among the greatest patient burdens. In our institution, we apply a combination of epidural and PVBs after thoracic surgery to reduce pain more effectively. The purpose of this study was to demonstrate the safety and feasibility of our method. This study included patients who underwent thoracic surgery and analgesic treatment in our institution between November 2014 and December 2016. Per our method of PVB induction, the parietal pleura was peeled off with a metal suction tube and an extrapleural pocket was created. An epidural catheter was inserted into this pocket and used to inject local anesthetics continuously after surgery. The catheters for analgesia were removed on the 4th postoperative day. In total, 368 patients received the combined epidural and PVBs. No severe complication was observed. The rate of rescue medication use in this study was lower than that in the historical control before adoption of this combination method; the incidence of pneumonia and length of hospital stay after surgery were not significantly different in this study from those in the historical control. In conclusion, our study demonstrated the safety and feasibility of the combination method of EPI and PVB. Acute pain after thoracic surgery may be adequately controlled using double analgesic regimens, including EPI and PVBs, suggesting an alternative to conventional modalities of EPI alone or PVB alone.