DG Journal Club
BACKGROUND We evaluated the impact of bilateral ultrasound-guided erector spinae plane blocks on pain and opioid-related outcomes within a standardized care pathway for lumbar fusion.
METHODS A retrospective propensity score matched cohort study. Clinical data were extracted from the electronic medical records of patients who underwent lumbar fusion (January 2019-July 2020). Propensity score matching based on common confounders was used to match patients who received or did not receive blocks in a 1:1 ratio. Primary outcomes were Numeric Rating Scale pain scores (0-10) and opioid consumption (morphine equivalent dose) in the first 24 hours after surgery (median (IQR)). Secondary outcomes included length of stay and opioid-related side effects.
RESULTS Of 1846 patients identified, 242 were matched and analyzed. Total 24-hour opioid consumption was significantly lower in the erector spinae plane block group (30 mg (0, 144); without-blocks: 45 mg (0, 225); p=0.03). There were no significant differences in pain scores in the postanesthesia care unit (with blocks: 4 (0, 9); without blocks: 4 (0,8); p=0.984) or on the nursing floor (with blocks: 4 (0,8); without blocks: 4 (0,8); p=0.134). Total length of stay was 5 hours shorter in the block group (76 hours (21, 411); without blocks: 81 (25, 268); p=0.001). Fewer patients who received blocks required postoperative antiemetic administration (with blocks: n=77 (64%); without blocks: n=97 (80%); p=0.006).
CONCLUSIONS Erector spinae plane blocks were associated with clinically irrelevant reductions in 24-hour opioid consumption and no improvement in pain scores after lumbar fusion. The routine use of these blocks in the setting of a comprehensive care pathway for lumbar fusion may not be warranted.