Liposomal Bupivacaine Intercostal Block Is Important for Reduction of Pulmonary Complications

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Background: We have previously demonstrated that Enhanced Recovery After Surgery protocols are associated with a reduction in pulmonary complications. As a component of enhanced recovery pathways, intercostal nerve blocks with liposomal bupivacaine are increasingly utilized, but the extent to which this element may contribute to such outcomes has not been evaluated. Methods: Patients undergoing lung resection for stage I to III non-small cell lung cancer at a single institution from 2006 to 2017 were examined for major postoperative pulmonary morbidity, defined as pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome, respiratory arrest, reintubation, bronchoscopy, or need for discharge with oxygen. Pharmacy records were queried for administration of liposomal bupivacaine via posterior intercostal nerve block. Patients treated with and without liposomal bupivacaine were compared in a logistic regression to determine the impact on pulmonary morbidity. Results: A total of 2865 patients were identified, including 860 (30%) who were treated with liposomal bupivacaine via posterior intercostal block. Pulmonary morbidity occurred in 455 (16%). Adoption of liposomal bupivacaine analgesia occurred over several years, beginning in 2012 to full adoption by 2017. Liposomal bupivacaine management was associated with a reduction in pulmonary complications, as compared with nonuse (odds ratio, 0.63; P = .006). Additional factors associated with the occurrence of pulmonary morbidity were age, body mass index, smoking, spirometry values, and operative blood loss. Conclusions: As a component of an active enhanced recovery program, liposomal bupivacaine is associated with a reduction in major pulmonary complications, and utilization should be evaluated on a hospital-by-hospital basis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)423-429
Number of pages7
JournalAnnals of Thoracic Surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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