Chest injuries are associated with mortality among patients admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) and require multimodal pain management strategies, including regional anesthesia (RA). We conducted a survey to determine the current practices of physicians working in ICUs regarding RA for the management of chest trauma in patients with multiple traumas.
An online questionnaire was sent to medical doctors (n = 1230) working in French ICUs, using the Société Française d’Anesthésie Réanimation (SFAR) mailing list of its members. The questionnaire addressed 3 categories: general characteristics, practical aspects of RA, and indications and contraindications.
Among the 333 respondents (response rate = 27%), 78% and 40% of 156 respondents declared that they would consider using thoracic epidural analgesia (TEA) and thoracic paravertebral blockade (TPB), respectively. The main benefits declared for performing RA were the ability to have effective analgesia, a more effective cough, and early rehabilitation. For 70% of the respondents, trauma patients with a theoretical indication of RA did not receive TEA or TPB for the following reasons: the ICU had no experience of RA (62%), no anesthesiologist-intensivist working in the ICU (46%), contraindications (27%), ignorance of the SFAR guidelines (19%), and no RA protocol available (13%). In this survey, 95% of the respondents thought the prognosis of trauma patients could be influenced by the use of RA.
While TEA and TPB are underused because of several limitations related to the patterns of injuries in multitrauma patients, lack of both experience and confidence in combination with the absence of available protocols appear to be the major restraining factors, even if physicians are aware that patients’ outcomes could be improved by RA. These results suggest the need to strengthen initial training and provide continuing education about RA in the ICU.