Thoracic paravertebral block (TPVB) is an established analgesic technique for breast surgery although it is technically challenging. Erector spinae plane block (ESPB) requires less technical expertise and may be an alternative to TPVB. However, whether ESPB has similar analgesic effects to TPVB for breast surgery is still inconclusive. Moreover, information on sensory blockade of ESPB is scarce. Accordingly, we conducted this retrospective propensity-matched study to see if ESPB could provide comparable analgesic effects to TPVB in patients undergoing breast surgery. We also compared cutaneous sensory block levels after the two techniques.
In this retrospective cohort study, we analyzed data saved in our database and compared the two techniques using a propensity matching method. The data of patients who underwent unilateral breast surgery under general anesthesia with the addition of either TPVB or ESPB were identified. We considered that the analgesic efficacy of ESPB was noninferior to TPVB if both postoperative fentanyl consumption and area under the curve (AUC) for pain scores within 24 h were within 50 µg and 240 mm･h margins, respectively. Cutaneous sensory block levels, additional analgesic requirements, and complications were also compared between the two groups.
Among 93 patients, 30 patients for each group were matched. Both postoperative fentanyl consumption and AUC for pain scores after ESPB were noninferior to those after TPVB. ESPB did not produce sensory blockade consistently, and the number of dermatomes was smaller after ESPB [1 (0–3)] [median (interquartile range)] than after TPVB [4 (2–5)] (P=0.002). No serious complications related to blocks were observed.