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An Expert Review of Chest Wall Fascial Plane Blocks for Cardiac Surgery

Published:October 31, 2022DOI:https://doi.org/10.1053/j.jvca.2022.10.026
      The recent integration of regional anesthesia techniques into the cardiac surgical patient population has become a component of enhanced recovery after cardiac surgery pathways. Fascial planes of the chest wall enable single-injection or catheter-based infusions to spread local anesthetic over multiple levels of innervation. Although median sternotomy remains a common approach to cardiac surgery, minimally invasive techniques have integrated additional methods of performing cardiac surgery. Understanding the surgical approach and chest wall innervation is crucial to success in choosing the appropriate chest wall block. Parasternal intercostal plane techniques (previously termed “pectointercostal fascial plane” and “transversus thoracic muscle plane”) provide anterior chest and ipsilateral sternal coverage. Anterolateral chest wall coverage is feasible with the interpectoral plane and pectoserratus plane blocks (previously termed “pectoralis”) and superficial and deep serratus anterior plane blocks. The erector spinae plane block provides extensive coverage of the ipsilateral chest wall. Any of these techniques has the potential to provide bilateral chest wall analgesia. The relative novelty of these techniques requires ongoing research to be strategic, thoughtful, and focused on clinically meaningful outcomes to enable widespread evidence-based implementation. This review article discusses the key perspectives for performing and assessing chest wall blocks in a cardiac surgical population.

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