Postoperative pain control modalities for pectus excavatum repair: A prospective observational study of cryoablation compared to results of a randomized trial of epidural vs patient-controlled analgesia

J Pediatr Surg. 2020 Aug;55(8):1444-1447. doi: 10.1016/j.jpedsurg.2019.09.021. Epub 2019 Oct 26.


Background: Pain following bar placement for pectus excavatum is the dominant factor post-operatively and determines length of stay (LOS). We recently adopted intercostal cryoablation as our preferred method of pain control following minimally invasive pectus excavatum repair. We compared the outcomes of cryoablation to results of a recently concluded trial of epidural (EPI) and patient-controlled analgesia (PCA) protocols.

Methods: We conducted a prospective observational study of patients undergoing bar placement for pectus excavatum using intercostal cryoablation. Results are reported and compared with those of a randomized trial comparing EPI with PCA. Comparisons of medians were performed using Kruskal-Wallis H tests with alpha 0.05.

Results: Thirty-five patients were treated with cryoablation compared to 32 epidural and 33 PCA patients from the trial. Cryoablation was associated with longer operating time (101 min, versus 58 and 57 min for epidural and PCA groups, p < 0.01), resulted in less time to pain control with oral medication (21 h, versus 72 and 67 h, p < 0.01), and decreased LOS (1 day, versus 4.3 and 4.2 days, p < 0.01).

Conclusion: Intercostal cryoablation during minimally invasive pectus excavatum repair reduces LOS and perioperative opioid consumption compared with both EPI and PCA.

Level of evidence: II.

Keywords: Cryoablation; Cryoanalgesia; Minimally invasive pectus excavatum repair.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Analgesia, Epidural*
  • Analgesia, Patient-Controlled*
  • Cryosurgery / adverse effects*
  • Funnel Chest / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay / statistics & numerical data
  • Pain, Postoperative / therapy*
  • Prospective Studies