BACKGROUND: There is a paucity of data comparing effectiveness of various techniques for pain management of traumatic rib fractures. This study compared the quality of analgesia provided by serratus anterior plane (SAP) catheters against thoracic epidural (TEA) or paravertebral catheters (PA) in patients with multiple traumatic rib fractures (MRFs).
METHODS: 354 patients who received either SAP, TEA or PA at two tertiary referral major trauma centers in the UK were included (2016-2018). Primary outcome were change in inspiratory volumes and pain scores. Secondary outcomes included in-hospital mortality, along with the length of stay in hospital and critical care. Data were analyzed using linear, log-binomial and negative binomial regression models.
MAIN RESULTS: Across all blocks, there was a mean (SD) increase in inspiratory volume postblock of 789.4 mL (479.7). Ninety-eight per cent of all participants reported moderate/severe pain prior to regional analgesia, which was reduced to 34% postblock. There was no significant difference in the change in inspiratory volume or pain scores between the TEA, PA or SAP groups. Overall crude mortality was 13.2% (95% CI 7.8% to 18.7%). In an adjusted analysis and compared with TEA, in-hospital mortality was similar between groups (relative risk (RR) 0.4, 95% CI 0.1 to 1.0) and (RR 0.5, 95% CI 0.2 to 1.6) for SAP and PA, respectively.
CONCLUSION: SAP, TEA and PA all appear to offer the ability to reduce pain scores and improve respiratory function.