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Successful Management of Pleuritic Pain With Thoracic Paravertebral Block
  1. Pilar Paniagua, M.D.,
  2. Elena Català, M.D., Ph.D. and
  3. Juan Manuel Villar Landeira, M.D.
  1. From the Anesthesiology and Pain Clinic Service, University Hospital Santa Creu i Sant Pau, Barcelona, Spain.
  1. Reprint requests: Elena Català, M.D., Ph.D., Anesthesiology and Pain Clinic Service, Hospital Universitari Santa Creu i Sant Pau, C/Sant Antoni MaClaret 167, 08023 Barcelona, Spain. Email: ecatala{at}


Background and Objectives Thoracic paravertebral block (TPVB) is a unilateral analgesic technique that has been advocated in both acute and chronic thoracic and abdominal pain. Other blocks such as interpleural and epidural can be effectively used in pleuritic pain. This report illustrates that TPVB could also be effective for this kind of pain.

Methods A 45-year-old man with acute pancreatitis was referred to the critical care unit 11 days after emergency admission with severe left pleural effusion and acute respiratory failure. His medical history revealed hypertension and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD); in addition, he was a heavy drinker and smoker. A pleuritic pain that only slightly improved with nonopioid analgesics and opioids resulted in the patient’s increasing inability to eliminate bronchial secretions. In an attempt to avoid endotracheal intubation, the pain unit recommended a continuous paravertebral block. The block was performed at T9 on the left side. An initial bolus of 15 mL bupivacaine 0.25% was administered and a continuous infusion, initially at 5 mL/h, was increased up to 10 mL/h to achieve the desired analgesic effect.

Results After the block the verbal analogue scale decreased from 9 to 3, and this level of pain relief was maintained until the end of the treatment 48 hours after the block. The patient improved and was discharged to the ward without the need for endotracheal intubation.

Conclusions This case report supports the notion that, in practice, the paravertebral block could be an effective and safe alternative to relief of pleuritic pain.

  • Pleuritic pain
  • Abdominal pain
  • Thoracic paravertebral block
  • Bupivacaine

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