Ultrasound-Guided Continuous Thoracic Erector Spinae Plane Block Within an Enhanced Recovery Program Is Associated with Decreased Opioid Consumption and Improved Patient Postoperative Rehabilitation After Open Cardiac Surgery—A Patient-Matched, Controlled Before-and-After Study

Published:January 19, 2019DOI:https://doi.org/10.1053/j.jvca.2018.11.021


      Open cardiac surgery may cause severe postoperative pain. The authors hypothesized that patients receiving a bundle of care using continuous erector spinae plane blocks (ESPB) would have decreased perioperative opioid consumption and improved early outcome parameters compared with standard perioperative management.


      A consecutive, patient-matched, controlled before-and-after study.


      Two tertiary teaching hospitals.


      The study comprised 67 consecutive patients undergoing elective cardiac surgery with cardiopulmonary bypass.


      In a controlled before-and-after trial, this study compared a historical group of 20 consecutive open cardiac surgery patients matched with a prospective group of 47 consecutive patients receiving continuous bilateral ESPB (0.25 mL/kg/side of ropivacaine 0.5%) after general anesthesia induction. For postoperative analgesia, both groups received paracetamol. The control group received intravenous (IV) morphine, 0.5 mg/h, and IV nefopam, 100 mg/24 h. In the ESPB group, 8 hours after the loading dose, catheters were connected to a pump infusing intermittent automatic boluses of ropivacaine 0.2% every 6 hours. If needed, for both groups, rescue analgesia was provided with IV ketorolac, 30 mg, and IV morphine, 30 µg/kg.

      Measurements and Main Results

      Morphine consumption in the first 48 hours was significantly decreased in the ESPB group (40 [25-45] mg in the control group compared with 0 [0-0] mg in the ESPB group [p < 0.001]) as was intraoperative sufentanil (0.8 [0.6-0.9] µg/kg/h and 0.2 [0.16-0.3] µg/kg/h, respectively; p < 0.001). Times to chest tube removal, first mobilization, pain (Visual Analogue Scale) values 2 hours after chest tube removal, pain values at rest 1 month after surgery, and postoperative adverse events were significantly decreased in the ESPB group. There was no difference for extubation time and pain during first mobilization.


      The authors report for the first time that the use of a bundle of care including a continuous bilateral ESPB is associated with a significant decrease in intraoperative and postoperative opioid consumption, optimized rapid patient mobilization, and chest tube removal after open cardiac surgery.

      Key Words

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