Paravertebral block in paediatric abdominal surgery—a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized trials

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The increased popularity of paravertebral block (PVB) can be attributed to its relative safety and comparable efficacy when compared with epidural analgesia. It has thus been recommended for open cholecystectomy and other less painful surgeries such as inguinal herniorraphy and appendectomy. We performed a systematic review of PVB in paediatric abdominal conditions to assess its clinical efficacy and side effects compared with other analgesic therapies.

A search of Medline, Embase, and Web of Science and hand-searching references from inception date to May 2016 was done. Relevant studies were randomized clinical trials in patients 0–18 years old comparing PVB (single shot or continuous catheter) with any comparator and analgesic medication. Pain scores, rescue analgesia and adverse events were compared.

The systematic reviews identified six trials enrolling 358 paediatric patients. PVB medications included bupivacaine, ropivacaine, lidocaine, and fentanyl. Surgical procedures included inguinal herniorraphy, cholecystectomy, and appendectomy. The standardized mean difference in early pain scores favoured PVB: 0.85 [95% confidence interval (CI) 0.12–1.58] at 4–6 h and 0.64 (95% CI 0.28–1.00) at 24 h. One study reported a reduced length of stay. Parental [odds ratio (OR) 5.12 (95% CI 2.59–10.1)] and surgeon [OR 6.05 (95% CI 2.25–16.3)] satisfaction were higher in those receiving a PVB. No major complications occurred with a PVB.

PVB resulted in minimally improved pain scores for up to 24 h after surgery, reduced rescue analgesia requirements, and increased surgeon and parental satisfaction. PVB is a good alternative to caudal and ilioinguinal block in paediatric abdominal surgery.

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