Continuous bilateral thoracic paravertebral blockade for analgesia after cardiac surgery: a randomised, controlled trial

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Continuous bilateral thoracic paravertebral blockade has been used for analgesia after cardiac surgery, but its efficacy has never been formally tested.


Fifty adult patients were enrolled in a double-blind, randomised, controlled study of continuous bilateral thoracic paravertebral infusion of 0.5% lidocaine (1 for analgesia after coronary surgery. Control patients received a subcutaneous infusion of lidocaine at the same rate through catheters inserted at the same locations as the study group. The primary outcome was morphine consumption at 48 hours using patient-controlled analgesia (PCA). Secondary outcomes included pain, respiratory function, nausea and vomiting. Serum lidocaine concentrations were measured on the first two post-operative days.


There was no difference in morphine consumption or in any other outcome measure between the groups. Serum lidocaine concentrations increased during the study, with a maximum of 5.9 mg.l-1. There were no adverse events as a consequence of the study.


Bilateral paravertebral infusion of lidocaine confers no advantage over systemic lidocaine infusion after cardiac surgery.

Clinical trial registration:

ISRCTN13424423 (

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