Background: The role of thoracic epidural analgesia (TEA) for postoperative analgesia after video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) is still controversial. Some studies have reported the efficacy of ultrasound-guided retrolaminar block (RLB) for the postoperative management of pain after chest wall surgery. The purpose of this study was to compare the postoperative analgesic efficacy and adverse effects of ultrasound-guided RLB with those of TEA in patients undergoing minor VATS procedures. Methods: A total of 192 relevant records of patients were enrolled in this study. We reviewed electronic medical records of patients undergoing minor VATS procedures under general anesthesia. The primary outcome was the median differences in the numerical rating scale (NRS) scores during rest between the groups at the morning of postoperative day 1 (POD 1m). A propensity-matched analysis incorporating preoperative variables was used to compare the efficacy of postoperative analgesia in two groups. Results: Overall, 94 patients were identified for analysis. Propensity score matching resulted in 47 patients in each group. There were no significant differences in the NRS scores between the two groups. The median differences in NRS scores during rest between the two groups at POD 1m were under 1, which indicates non-inferiority of RLB. There were no significant differences in the incidence of adverse effects and rescue dose of analgesic consumption between the two groups. Conclusions: The analgesic effects of continuous ultrasound-guided RLB were non inferior to those of TEA for minor VATS procedures.
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