Current Issue - May/June 2023 - Vol 26 Issue 3


  1. 2023;26;219-229Comparison of Intercostal Block and Epidural Analgesia for Post-thoracotomy: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials
    Systematic Review
    Zangong Zhou, MD, Xin Zheng, MD, Jianfang Song, MD, Xiangfeng Jin, MD, PhD, Lipeng Zhao, MD, and Shanling Liu, MD, PhD.

BACKGROUND: Thoracotomy is associated with severe postoperative pain. Effective management of acute pain after thoracotomy may reduce complications and chronic pain. Epidural analgesia (EPI) is considered the gold standard for postthoracotomy analgesia; however, it is associated with complications and limitations. Emerging evidence suggests that an intercostal nerve block (ICB) has a low risk of severe complications. Anesthetists will benefit from a review that assesses the advantages and disadvantages associated with ICB and EPI in thoracotomy.

OBJECTIVES: This meta-analysis aimed to evaluate the analgesic efficacy and adverse effects of ICB and EPI for pain treatment after thoracotomy.

STUDY DESIGN: Systematic review.

METHODS: This study was registered in the International Prospective Register of Systematic Reviews (CRD42021255127). Relevant studies were searched for in PubMed, Embase, Cochrane, and Ovid databases. Primary (postoperative pain at rest and during cough) and secondary (nausea and vomiting, morphine consumption, and length of hospital stay) outcomes were analyzed. The standard mean difference for continuous variables and the risk ratio for dichotomous variables were calculated.

RESULTS: Nine randomized controlled studies with a total of 498 patients who underwent thoracotomy were included. The results of the meta-analysis demonstrated no statistically significant differences between the 2 methods in terms of the Visual Analog Scale scores for pain at 6-8, 12-15, 24-25, and 48-50 hours at rest and at 24 hours during coughing after surgery. There were no significant differences in nausea and vomiting, morphine consumption, or length of hospital stay between the ICB and EPI groups.

LIMITATIONS: The number of included studies was small, and the quality of evidence was low.

CONCLUSIONS: ICB may be as effective as EPI for pain relief after thoracotomy.

KEY WORDS: Thoracic surgery, intercostal nerve block, epidural analgesia, postthoracotomy pain, postoperative pain, randomized controlled trial, meta-analysis, systematic review