Background: Thoracic surgery often results in severe postoperative pain. Regional analgesia via surgically placed extrapleural local anaesthetic (LA) and continuous infusion (CI) is an effective technique, however usually requires supplemental opioid to achieve satisfactory patient analgesia. We hypothesized that high frequency, low background rate extrapleural programmed intermittent boluses (PIB) of LA by could achieve superior patient analgesia and reduced oral morphine equivalent daily dosage (OMEDD) requirements for up to 3 days after thoracic surgery vs. CI.
Methods: We retrospectively analysed data from 84 adult patients receiving extrapleural analgesia after thoracic surgery in a single tertiary teaching hospital. The primary outcome measure was the effect of PIB vs. CI on maximum daily 11-point numerical rating scale (NRS-11) ratings as determined by multivariate linear regression analysis, corrected for OMEDD use, total daily LA dose, surgery type, age, opioid type, and use of ketamine analgesia. Secondary outcome measures were the effect on OMEDD use, the effect of total 'rescue' LA boluses, and univariate analyses of the above outcomes and variables.
Results: PIB on day 0, and a higher proportion of LA given as rescue boluses on day 1 were associated with reduced maximum NRS-11 ratings [standardized/ [unstandardized] beta coefficient -0.34/ [-0.92 NRS-11 if PIB] (P = 0.007); and -0.26/ [-0.029 NRS-11 per mg/kg extrapleural ropivacaine] (P = 0.03)], respectively. Only patient age was associated with reduced OMEDD use [day 0: -0.58/ [-4.4 OMEDDs per year of age] (P ≤ 0.005); day 1: -0.49/ [-3.56 OMEDDs per year of age] (P ≤ 0.005); day 2: -0.32/ [-1.9 OMEDDs per year of age] (P = 0.04)]. OMEDD use on day 2, however, was associated with slightly higher maximum NRS-11 ratings [+0.28/ +0.006 NRS-11 per mg OMEDD (P = 0.036)]. On univariate analysis, PIB patients achieved the largest difference in OMEDD use [-98 mg (95% CI -73 to -123 mg)] and NRS-11 ratings [-1.1 (-0.4 to -1.8)] against CI patients on day 3.
Conclusions: Use of high frequency, low background rate PIB extrapleural LA after thoracic surgery appears to have a modest beneficial effect on acute pain, but not OMEDD use, over CI when adjusted for patient, surgical and other analgesic factors after thoracic surgery. Further work is required to elucidate the potential magnitude of effect that extrapleural LA given by PIB over CI can achieve.
Keywords: Acute Pain; Extrapleural; Local Anaesthetic; Pain; Paravertebral; Regional Anaesthesia; Thoracic Surgery.
Copyright © 2019, Author(s).