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World J Surg. 1995 May-Jun;19(3):388-93.

Clinical management of blunt trauma patients with unilateral rib fractures: a randomized trial.

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Department of Emergency Medicine/Trauma, Hartford Hospital, Connecticut 06115, USA.


Optimal pain management is essential in blunt trauma patients sustaining significant chest trauma. The purpose of this randomized prospective trial was to measure the difference in pulmonary function in nonintubated patients with unilateral multiple rib fractures receiving two modalities of pain relief: systemic narcotic medications alone or local anesthetics given by intrapleural catheter (IPCs). Forty-two patients were randomized to receive systemic narcotic medications or IPCs for pain control. The patients with IPCs statistically had more compromised pulmonary function as measured by forced vital capacity (FVC) on admission; however, they tended toward a greater objective improvement of FVC on discharge. When analyzing a cohort of severely impaired patients (initial FVC < 20%), half of the systemic medication patients compared to only 10% of the IPC group failed and required another mode of therapy. Catheter complications were minor and did not contribute to overall morbidity. The IPC patients had fewer failures than the systemic medication patients.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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