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J Surg Res. 2018 Nov;231:217-223. doi: 10.1016/j.jss.2018.05.048. Epub 2018 Jun 21.

Comparing outcomes with thoracic epidural and intercostal nerve cryoablation after Nuss procedure.

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Department of Surgery, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, Michigan. Electronic address:
Section of Pediatric Surgery, C.S. Mott Children's Hospital, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Department of Surgery, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, Michigan.



This study aimed to evaluate postoperative outcomes after minimally invasive repair of pectus excavatum (Nuss procedure) using video-assisted intercostal nerve cryoablation (INC) compared to thoracic epidural (TE).


We performed a single center retrospective review of pediatric patients who underwent Nuss procedure with INC (n = 19) or TE (n = 13) from April 2015 to August 2017. Preoperative, intraoperative, and postoperative characteristics were collected. The primary outcome was length of stay (LOS) and secondary outcomes were intravenous and oral opioid use, pain scores, and complications. Opioids were converted to oral morphine milligram equivalents per kilogram (oral morphine equivalent [OME]/kg). Mann-Whitney U test was used for continuous and chi-squared analysis for categorical variables.


There were no significant differences in patient characteristics, except Haller Index (INC: median [interquartile range] 4.3 [3.6-4.9]; TE: 3.2 [2.8-4.0]; P = 0.03). LOS was shorter with INC (INC: 3 [3-4] days; TE: 6 [5-7] days; P < 0.001). Opioid use was higher intraoperatively (INC: 1.08 [0.87-1.37] OME/kg; TE: 0.46 [0.37-0.67] OME/kg; P = 0.002) and unchanged postoperatively (INC: 1.78 [1.26-3.77] OME/kg; TE: 1.82 [1.05-3.37] OME/kg; P = 0.80), and prescription doses were lower at discharge in INC (INC: 30 [30-40] doses; TE: 42 [40-60] doses; P = 0.005). There was no significant difference in postoperative complications (INC: 42.1%; TE: 53.9%; P = 0.51).


INC during Nuss procedure reduced LOS, shifting postoperative opioid use earlier during admission. This may reflect the need for improved early pain control until INC takes effect. Prospective evaluation after INC is needed to characterize long-term pain medication requirements.


Cryoablation; Epidural; Pain management; Pectus; Pediatric surgery

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