Analgesic Choice in Management of Rib Fractures: Paravertebral Block or Epidural Analgesia?

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BACKGROUND:Rib fractures are commonly encountered in the setting of trauma. The aim of this study was to assess the association between the clinical outcome of rib fracture and epidural analgesia (EA) versus paravertebral block (PVB) using the National Trauma Data Bank (NTDB).METHODS:Using the 2011 and 2012 versions of the NTDB, we retrieved completed records for all patients above 18 years of age who were admitted with rib fractures. Primary outcome was in-hospital mortality. Secondary outcomes were length of stay (LOS), intensive care unit (ICU) admission, ICU LOS, mechanical ventilation, duration of mechanical ventilation, development of pneumonia, and development of any other complication. Clinical outcomes were first compared between propensity score-matched EA and PVB patients. Then, EA and PVB patients were combined into the procedure group and the outcomes were compared with propensity score-matched patients that received neither intervention (no-procedure group).RESULTS:A total of 194,766 patients were included in the study with 1073 patients having EA, 1110 patients having PVB, and 192,583 patients having neither procedure. After propensity score matching, comparison of primary and secondary outcomes between EA and PVB patients showed no difference. Comparison of propensity score-matched procedure and no-procedure patients showed prolonged LOS and more frequent ICU admissions in patients receiving a procedure (both P < .0001), yet having no procedure was associated with a significantly increased odds of mortality (odds ratio: 2.25; 95% confidence interval, 1.14–3.84; P = .002).CONCLUSIONS:Using the NTDB, EA and PVB were not found to be significantly different in management of rib fractures. There was an association between use of a block and improved outcome, but this could be explained by selection of healthier patients to receive a block. Prospective study of this association is recommended.

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