Background: Abdominal surgery is one of the most definitive and mainstay treatment options for abdominal pathologies in clinical practice. Acute postoperative pain is a major challenge in the postoperative period. Although opioids are commonly used for analgesia after major abdominal surgeries, they can lead to side effects, such as nausea and vomiting, constipation, pruritus, and life-threatening respiratory depression. Regional anesthetic techniques are commonly used to prevent or minimize these side effects. The objective of this meta-analysis is to assess the effectiveness of erector spinae plane block (ESPB) and standard medical (no block) pain management after major abdominal surgeries.
Methods: We searched for articles reporting the results of randomized controlled trials on ESPB and no block in pain control published before May 2021.
Results: The systematic search initially yielded 56 publications, 49 articles were excluded, and seven randomized clinical trials were included and analyzed. We extracted the data on postoperative opioid consumption, the efficacy of pain relief, time to the first opioid demand, and the rate of postoperative complications in the ESPB group and no block group.
Conclusions: Opioid requirement and time to first analgesic request were significantly reduced in the ultrasound-guided ESPB group, but pain scores, nausea, and vomiting did not differ significantly after pooling the results of the block and no block studies. There were no reports on serious complications related to ESPB.