Erector spinae plane block for postoperative pain

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Abstract

Background: Acute and chronic postoperative pain are important healthcare problems, which can be treated with a combination of opioids and regional anaesthesia. The erector spinae plane block (ESPB) is a new regional anaesthesia technique, which might be able to reduce opioid consumption and related side effects. Objectives: To compare the analgesic effects and side effect profile of ESPB against no block, placebo block or other regional anaesthetic techniques. Search methods: We searched the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), MEDLINE, Embase and Web of Science on 4 January 2021 and updated the search on 3 January 2022. Selection criteria: Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) investigating adults undergoing surgery with general anaesthesia were included. We included ESPB in comparison with no block, placebo blocks or other regional anaesthesia techniques irrespective of language, publication year, publication status or technique of regional anaesthesia used (ultrasound, landmarks or peripheral nerve stimulator). Quasi-RCTs, cluster-RCTs, cross-over trials and studies investigating co-interventions in either arm were excluded. Data collection and analysis: Two review authors independently assessed all trials for inclusion and exclusion criteria, and risk of bias (RoB), and extracted data. We assessed risk of bias using the Cochrane RoB 2 tool, and we used GRADE to rate the certainty of evidence for the primary outcomes. The primary outcomes were postoperative pain at rest at 24 hours and block-related adverse events. Secondary outcomes were postoperative pain at rest (2, 48 hours) and during activity (2, 24 and 48 hours after surgery), chronic pain after three and six months, as well as cumulative oral morphine requirements at 2, 24 and 48 hours after surgery and rates of opioid-related side effects. Main results: We identified 69 RCTs in the first search and included these in the systematic review. We included 64 RCTs (3973 participants) in the meta-analysis. The outcome postoperative pain was reported in 38 out of 64 studies; block-related adverse events were reported in 40 out of 64 studies. We assessed RoB as low in 44 (56%), some concerns in 24 (31%) and high in 10 (13%) of the study results. Overall, 57 studies reported one or both primary outcomes. Only one study reported results on chronic pain after surgery. In the updated literature search on 3 January 2022 we found 37 new studies and categorised these as awaiting classification. ESPB compared to no block. There is probably a slight but not clinically relevant reduction in pain intensity at rest 24 hours after surgery in patients treated with ESPB compared to no block (visual analogue scale (VAS), 0 to 10 points) (mean difference (MD) -0.77 points, 95% confidence interval (CI) -1.08 to -0.46; 17 trials, 958 participants; moderate-certainty evidence). There may be no difference in block-related adverse events between the groups treated with ESPB and those receiving no block (no events in 18 trials reported, 1045 participants, low-certainty evidence). ESPB compared to placebo block. ESPB probably has no effect on postoperative pain intensity at rest 24 hours after surgery compared to placebo block (MD -0.14 points, 95% CI -0.29 to 0.00; 8 trials, 499 participants; moderate-certainty evidence). There may be no difference in block-related adverse events between ESPB and placebo blocks (no events in 10 trials reported; 592 participants; low-certainty evidence). ESPB compared to other regional anaesthetic techniques. Paravertebral block (PVB). ESPB may not have any additional effect on postoperative pain intensity at rest 24 hours after surgery compared to PVB (MD 0.23 points, 95% CI -0.06 to 0.52; 7 trials, 478 participants; low-certainty evidence). There is probably no difference in block-related adverse events (risk ratio (RR) 0.27, 95% CI 0.08 to 0.95; 7 trials, 522 participants; moderate-certainty evidence). Transversus abdominis plane block (TAPB). ESPB may not have any additional effect on postoperative pain intensity at rest 24 hours after surgery compared to TAPB (MD -0.16 points, 95% CI -0.46 to 0.14; 3 trials, 160 participants; low-certainty evidence). There may be no difference in block-related adverse events (RR 1.00, 95% CI 0.21 to 4.83; 4 trials, 202 participants; low-certainty evidence). Serratus anterior plane block (SAPB). The effect on postoperative pain could not be assessed because no studies reported this outcome. There may be no difference in block-related adverse events (RR 1.00, 95% CI 0.06 to 15.59; 2 trials, 110 participants; low-certainty evidence). Pectoralis plane block (PECSB). ESPB may not have any additional effect on postoperative pain intensity at rest 24 hours after surgery compared to PECSB (MD 0.24 points, 95% CI -0.11 to 0.58; 2 trials, 98 participants; low-certainty evidence). The effect on block-related adverse events could not be assessed. Quadratus lumborum block (QLB). Only one study reported on each of the primary outcomes. Intercostal nerve block (ICNB). ESPB may not have any additional effect on postoperative pain intensity at rest 24 hours after surgery compared to ICNB, but this is uncertain (MD -0.33 points, 95% CI -3.02 to 2.35; 2 trials, 131 participants; very low-certainty evidence). There may be no difference in block-related adverse events, but this is uncertain (RR 0.09, 95% CI 0.04 to 2.28; 3 trials, 181 participants; very low-certainty evidence). Epidural analgesia (EA). We are uncertain whether ESPB has an effect on postoperative pain intensity at rest 24 hours after surgery compared to EA (MD 1.20 points, 95% CI -2.52 to 4.93; 2 trials, 81 participants; very low-certainty evidence). A risk ratio for block-related adverse events was not estimable because only one study reported this outcome. Authors' conclusions: ESPB in addition to standard care probably does not improve postoperative pain intensity 24 hours after surgery compared to no block. The number of block-related adverse events following ESPB was low. Further research is required to study the possibility of extending the duration of analgesia. We identified 37 new studies in the updated search and there are three ongoing studies, suggesting possible changes to the effect estimates and the certainty of the evidence in the future.

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Schnabel, A., Weibel, S., Pogatzki-Zahn, E., Meyer-Frießem, C. H., & Oostvogels, L. (2023, October 9). Erector spinae plane block for postoperative pain. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. John Wiley and Sons Ltd. https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD013763.pub2

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