A new study provides support for the use of ultrasound to guide the implementation of thoracic paravertebral nerve block (TPVB), a procedure that has proven highly effective in the management of postoperative pain from breast cancer surgery. The study, published in Anesthesia & Analgesia reports that ultrasound-guided nerve blocking can help to prevent unintentional puncturing of the pleura and the potentially serious complications that may arise therefrom. The study is authored by Peter Stefanovich, MD, and colleagues at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston.
Controlling postoperative pain in women who have undergone mastectomy is important because this acute pain is a risk factor for the development of chronic pain. TPVB is a regional nerve block, in which a small amount of local anesthetic is injected around the thoracic nerve roots where they exit the spinal column. TPVB provides effective control of postsurgical pain, but concern for patient safety arising from the possibility of pneumothorax complication presently limits its use. But with the use of ultrasound, the study reports, anesthesiologists can accurately guide needle placement by pinpointing the exact location of the thoracic spinal nerve roots.
Read more about the findings, with link to the journal abstract, here.
Read more about ultrasound, here.