Local infusion of bupivacaine combined with intravenous patient-controlled analgesia provides better pain relief than intravenous patient-controlled analgesia alone in patients undergoing minimally invasive cardiac surgery

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ObjectiveThis prospective randomized double-blind study examined the effect of local wound infusion of anesthetics on pain control in the thoracotomy wound of patients undergoing minimally invasive cardiac surgery.MethodsPatients who underwent coronary artery bypass grafting or cardiac valvular procedures via a minimally invasive thoracotomy were studied. Patients were enrolled and randomly allocated to two groups with different modalities of postoperative analgesia. The thoracotomy wound infusion group received 0.15% bupivacaine infused continuously at 2 mL/h through a catheter embedded in the wound, as well as intravenous patient-controlled analgesia. The control group had patient-controlled analgesia alone with a sham thoracotomy wound infusion of normal saline. Verbal analog pain scores (0-10 points) and recovery profiles were investigated.ResultsThere were 19 patients in each group for complete data analysis. On the first day after the operation, infusion of local anesthetics significantly reduced the verbal analog pain scores both at rest and during motion (thoracotomy wound infusion vs control). The improved pain relief with thoracotomy wound infusion persisted at day 3 and even at 3 months after the operation. No difference was noted about time to extubation, length of intensive care unit stay, or hospital stay.ConclusionIn this controlled double-blind study, thoracotomy wound infusion and patient-controlled analgesia were superior to patient-controlled analgesia alone in reducing pain at 1, 3, and 90 days after minimally invasive cardiac surgery.

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