Last updated on June 2019

The Erector Spinae Plane Block and Its Effect on Respiratory Status and Pain Management in Rib Fracture Patients


Brief description of study

The purpose of this research study is to identify the benefits of a type of nerve block, called an erector spinae plane block (ESP), in the treatment of patients with multiple rib fractures and uncontrolled pain despite receiving current institutional standards of care.

Detailed Study Description

Rib fractures are one of the most common injuries secondary to blunt chest trauma, and carry significant risk in terms of patient morbidity and mortality. Pulmonary complications resulting from these injuries include severe atelectasis with hypoxemia, pneumonia, pleural effusions, respiratory distress syndrome, need for mechanical ventilation and ICU admission, and prolonged hospital stay. Many institutions have tried to develop protocols to risk stratify and appropriately treat these patients, with the goal of predicting those with higher likelihood of pulmonary complications in order to minimize additional morbidity. Studies have demonstrated critical spirometry values which correlate to worse patient outcomes; specifically, vital capacity less than 50% predicted, or less than 2L. Subsequently, there have been numerous attempts to identify the best treatment interventions for these high risk patients. In addition to multi-modal pain management, the most commonly used procedures include thoracic epidurals, continuous or single shot paravertebral blocks, and intercostal blocks. However, all of the above interventions carry significant risk, and the frequent use lovenox thromboprophylaxis drastically limit their use. Recently, a novel peripheral nerve block technique has been developed, an erector spinae plane block (ESP), which may provide similar or greater efficacy to the above, with significantly less risk to the patient.

Clinical Study Identifier: NCT03805360

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Virginia Commonwealth University

Richmond, VA United States
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