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Beyond the short-term relief: Outcomes of geriatric rib fracture patients receiving paravertebral nerve blocks and epidural analgesia

Injury. 2023 Nov 10:111184. doi: 10.1016/j.injury.2023.111184. Online ahead of print.


BACKGROUND: Adequate pain control is a critical component of rib fracture management. Our study aimed to evaluate the in-hospital and post-discharge outcomes of geriatric rib fracture patients who received paravertebral nerve block (PVNB) versus epidural analgesia (EA) on a national level.

METHODS: We performed a 5-year (2011-15) retrospective analysis of the Nationwide Readmission database. We included all the geriatric (≥65 years) blunt trauma patients with rib fractures who received a paravertebral nerve block (PVNB) or Epidural analgesia (EA) for chest injuries. We excluded patients who were dead on arrival, those with head AIS≥3, spine AIS >0, and those with cognitive impairment. Patients were stratified into two groups (PVNB and EA). A propensity score matching (1:2) was performed, and the two groups were compared. Our outcomes included delirium, hospital length of stay (LOS), 90-day readmissions, 90-day mechanical ventilation, and initial and 90-day mortality.

RESULTS: A total of 2,855 geriatric rib fracture patients were identified, out of which 352 (12 %) received PVNB and 2,503 (87 %) received EA. The mean (SD) age was 78 (8) years and 53 % were female. A total of 1,041 patients were matched (PVNB=347, EA=694 patients). The median [IQR] Injury severity score was 9 [3-15], median chest AIS was 3 [2-4], and 70 % had ≥3 rib fractures. The total mortality during index admission was 6 %, 13 % experienced delirium, and the median hospital LOS was 6 [4-10] days. There was no difference in the primary outcomes of the two groups including rates of index admission mortality (PVNB: 5.2% vs. EA:6.3 %, p = 0.548) and delirium (PVNB: 12.4% vs. EA:12.9 %, p = 0.862). We also found no statistically significant difference between these groups in terms of 90-day respiratory complications (p = 1.000), 90-day readmission (p = 0.111), 90-day mortality (p = 0.718), and 90-day need for mechanical ventilation (p = 1.000).

CONCLUSION: The use of PVNB in geriatric trauma patients with multiple rib fractures is associated with comparable in-hospital and post-discharge outcomes relative to EA. PVNB is relatively easy to perform and has a better side effect profile. The use of PVNB as part of rib fracture management protocols warrants further consideration.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: III STUDY TYPE: Therapeutic/Care Management.

PMID:37989702 | DOI:10.1016/j.injury.2023.111184

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