Breast Surgery and Peripheral Blocks. Is It Worth It?

Abstract

Purpose of review: The objective of this review is to identify the potential of peripheral nerve blocks established over the last years for perioperative pain management in breast surgery. These new blocks will be discussed with respect to their clinical effect and necessity.

Recent findings: After case reports and cadaver studies for the Pecs block and its variations sufficient clinical data from randomized controlled trial (RCT) and meta-analyses exist now. The modified Pecs block or Pecs II leads to a reduction of postoperative 24-h opioid consumption. The recently invented Erector spine block addresses the intercostal nerves. The benefits in analgesia of this approach were tested in few RCTs and showed superiority to the control group in terms of requested postoperative morphine. Most studies showed low intraoperative opioid doses and no study more than low to moderate postoperative pain scores.

Summary: Taking the pain levels after breast surgery into account, the request of additional nerve blocks has to be pondered against the potential risks and resource requirement. To reduce or avoid intraoperative or postoperative opioids, an ultrasound-guided Pecs II block proves to be the best option for perioperative pain relief.

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