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Papers of the Week

2020 Feb 06

Anesth Analg

Regional Anesthesia in Cardiac Surgery: An Overview of Fascial Plane Chest Wall Blocks.


Kelava M, Alfirevic A, Bustamante S, Hargrave J, Marciniak D
Anesth Analg. 2020 Feb 06.
PMID: 32032103.


Optimal analgesia is an integral part of enhanced recovery after surgery (ERAS) programs designed to improve patients' perioperative experience and outcomes. Regional anesthetic techniques in a form of various fascial plane chest wall blocks are an important adjunct to the optimal postoperative analgesia in cardiac surgery. The most common application of fascial plane chest wall blocks has been for minimally invasive cardiac surgical procedures. An abundance of case reports has been described in the anesthesia literature and reports appear promising, yet higher-level safety and efficacy evidence is lacking. Those providing anesthesia for minimally invasive cardiac procedures should become familiar with fascial plane anatomy and block techniques to be able to provide enhanced postsurgical analgesia and facilitate faster functional recovery and earlier discharge. The purpose of this review is to provide an overview of contemporary fascial plane chest wall blocks used for analgesia in cardiothoracic surgery. Specifically, we focus on relevant anatomic considerations and technical descriptions including pectoralis I and II, serratus anterior, pectointercostal fascial, transverse thoracic muscle, and erector spine plane blocks. In addition, we provide a summary of reported local anesthetic doses used for these blocks and a current state of the literature investigating their efficacy, duration, and comparisons with standard practices. Finally, we hope to stimulate further research with a focus on delineating mechanisms of action of novel emerging blocks, appropriate dosing regimens, and subsequent analysis of their effect on patient outcomes.