Successful emergency pain control for posterior rib fractures with ultrasound-guided erector spinae plane block

Am J Emerg Med. 2018 Aug;36(8):1391-1396. doi: 10.1016/j.ajem.2017.12.060. Epub 2017 Dec 28.


The Eastern Association for the Surgery of Trauma and Trauma Anesthesiology Society Guidelines recommend prompt and effective multimodal analgesia for rib fractures that combines regional anesthesia (RA) techniques with pharmacotherapy to treat pain, optimize pulmonary function, and reduce opioid related complications. However, RA techniques such as epidurals and paravertebral blocks, are generally underutilized or unavailable for emergency department (ED) patients. The recently described serratus anterior plane block (SAPB) is a promising technique, but failures with posterior rib fractures have been observed. The erector spinae plane block (ESPB) is conceptually similar to the SAPB, but targets the posterior thorax making it likely more effective for ED patients with posterior rib fractures. Our initial experience demonstrates consistent success with the ESPB for traumatic posterior rib fracture analgesia. Herein, we present the first description of the ESPB utilized in the ED.

Keywords: Analgesia; Analgesics, opioid; Anesthesia, conduction; Anesthesiology; Emergency service, hospital; Nerve block; Pain; Pain management; Rib fractures; Ultrasonography.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Analgesics, Opioid / administration & dosage
  • Anesthetics, Local / administration & dosage
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nerve Block / methods*
  • Pain / etiology*
  • Pain Management / methods*
  • Pain Measurement / methods
  • Rib Fractures / complications*
  • Ultrasonography, Interventional


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Anesthetics, Local