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Papers of the Week

2023 Jan 12

Respir Med

A narrative review on pain control interventions for non-surgical pleural procedures.


Du A, Hannan L, Muruganandan S
Respir Med. 2023 Jan 12:107119.
PMID: 36642343.


Pleural diseases are common and frequently result in disabling symptoms, impaired health-related quality of life and hospitalisation. Both diagnosis and management often require pleural procedures and despite a variety of pain control strategies available for clinicians to employ, many procedures are still complicated by pain and discomfort. This can interfere with procedure success and can limit patient satisfaction. This review examines the evidence for pain control strategies for people undergoing non-surgical pleural procedures. A systematic literature search was undertaken to identify published studies examining different pain control strategies including pharmacological (sedatives, paravertebral blocks, erector spinae blocks, intrapleural anaesthesia, epidural anaesthesia, local anaesthetic, methoxyflurane, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs [NSAIDs], opioids) and non-pharmacological measures (transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation [TENS], cold application and changes to the intervention or technique). Current literature is limited by heterogeneous study design, small participant numbers and use of different endpoints. Strategies that were more effective than placebo or standard care at improving pain included intrapleural local anaesthesia, paravertebral blocks, NSAIDs, small-bore intercostal catheters (ICC), cold application and TENS. Inhaled methoxyflurane, thoracic epidural anaesthesia and erector spinae blocks may also be useful approaches but require further evaluation to determine their roles in routine non-surgical pleural procedures. Future research should utilise reliable and repeatable study designs and reach consensus in endpoints to allow comparability between findings and thus provide the evidence-base to achieve standardisation of pain management approaches.