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Am J Surg. 2015 May;209(5):881-3. doi: 10.1016/j.amjsurg.2015.01.013. Epub 2015 Mar 25.

Effect of paravertebral nerve blocks on narcotic use after mastectomy with reconstruction.

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Legacy Good Samaritan Medical Center, Legacy Cancer Institute, Portland, OR 97210, USA.
Legacy Good Samaritan Medical Center, Legacy Cancer Institute, Portland, OR 97210, USA. Electronic address:



Pain control outcomes using local anesthetic delivery systems vs usual narcotics at our institution revealed that use of local anesthetic delivery systems decreased narcotic use greater than 40% in patients with no reconstruction but had very little effect in patients receiving reconstruction. As part of our quality improvement program, the anesthesiology department trained and began offering paravertebral blocks (PVBs) to patients having reconstruction. We reviewed pain control outcomes to understand how the use of paravertebral nerve blocks affected narcotic use in reconstructed patients.


Retrospective review of prospectively collected data on patients undergoing mastectomy with or without reconstruction in the 6-month period after introduction of PVB analgesia. Patients received preoperative single-shot paravertebral nerve blocks at T2 to T3 and T5 to T6 with bupivacaine .5% and epinephrine 1:200,000 (7.5 mL per injection). Patients who had a bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction received bilateral paravertebral nerve blocks at the same locations. Narcotic doses were converted to morphine equivalents (MSEs) to allow comparison.


There were 102 patients with mastectomy during that period and 91 were evaluable. Fifty-one had no reconstruction with an average MSE use of 37.9. There were 40 with reconstruction, 33 had PVB with average MSE of 42.6, and 7 patients had reconstruction with no PVB with average MSE of 71.1. There were no major complications.


Institution of the PVB for patients undergoing mastectomy with reconstruction lowered average MSE use. We will continue to offer paravertebral blocks in this cohort of patients.


Mastectomy with reconstruction; Nerve block; Pain control; Paravertebral block

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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