Background and objectives Thoracic paravertebral blockade is often used as an anesthetic and/or analgesic technique for breast surgery. With ultrasound guidance, the rate of complications is speculated to be lower than when using landmark-based techniques. This investigation aimed to quantify the incidence of pleural puncture and pneumothorax following non-continuous ultrasound-guided thoracic paravertebral blockade for breast surgery.
Methods Patients who received thoracic paravertebral blockade for breast surgery were identified by retrospective query of our institution’s electronic database over a 5-year period. Data collected included patient demographics, level of block, type and volume of local anesthetic, occurrence of pleural puncture, occurrence of pneumothorax, evidence of local anesthetic toxicity, and patient vital signs. The incidence of block complications, including pleural puncture, pneumothorax, and local anesthetic toxicity, were ascertained.
Results 529 patients underwent 2163 thoracic paravertebral injections. Zero pleural punctures were identified during block performance; however, two patients were found to have a pneumothorax on postoperative chest X-ray (3.6 per 1000 surgeries, 95% CI 0.5 to 13.6; 0.9 per 1000 levels blocked, 95% CI 0.1 to 3.3). There were no cases of local anesthetic systemic toxicity or associated lipid emulsion therapy administration.
Conclusions Pneumothorax following non-continuous ultrasound-guided thoracic paravertebral block using a parasagittal approach is an uncommon occurrence, with a similar rate to pneumothorax following breast surgery alone.
- regional anesthesia
- postoperative complications
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Presented at Interim Data from this work were presented at the 2018 American Society of Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine Meeting in San Antonio, TX November 15–17, 2018.
Contributors ADN took part in design of the project, acquisition of data, analysis and interpretation of data, and writing the manuscript. LAL took part in the acquisition of data, and analysis and interpretation of data. AKJ, HPS, and RLJ took part in the design of the project, analysis and interpretation of data, and writing the manuscript.
Competing interests None declared.
Patient consent for publication Not required.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
Data availability statement Deidentified data are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.
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