Beyond the short-term relief: Outcomes of geriatric rib fracture patients receiving paravertebral nerve blocks and epidural analgesia

Qaidar Alizai, Muhammad Sohaib Arif, Christina Colosimo, Hamidreza Hosseinpour, Audrey L. Spencer, Sai Krishna Bhogadi, Adam Nelson, Tanya Anand, Michael Ditillo, Bellal Joseph

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Adequate pain control is a critical component of rib fracture management. Our study aimed to evaluate the in-hospital and post-discharge outcomes of geriatric rib fracture patients who received paravertebral nerve block (PVNB) versus epidural analgesia (EA) on a national level. Methods: We performed a 5-year (2011–15) retrospective analysis of the Nationwide Readmission database. We included all the geriatric (≥65 years) blunt trauma patients with rib fractures who received a paravertebral nerve block (PVNB) or Epidural analgesia (EA) for chest injuries. We excluded patients who were dead on arrival, those with head AIS≥3, spine AIS >0, and those with cognitive impairment. Patients were stratified into two groups (PVNB and EA). A propensity score matching (1:2) was performed, and the two groups were compared. Our outcomes included delirium, hospital length of stay (LOS), 90-day readmissions, 90-day mechanical ventilation, and initial and 90-day mortality. Results: A total of 2,855 geriatric rib fracture patients were identified, out of which 352 (12 %) received PVNB and 2,503 (87 %) received EA. The mean (SD) age was 78 (8) years and 53 % were female. A total of 1,041 patients were matched (PVNB=347, EA=694 patients). The median [IQR] Injury severity score was 9 [3–15], median chest AIS was 3 [2–4], and 70 % had ≥3 rib fractures. The total mortality during index admission was 6 %, 13 % experienced delirium, and the median hospital LOS was 6 [4–10] days. There was no difference in the primary outcomes of the two groups including rates of index admission mortality (PVNB: 5.2% vs. EA:6.3 %, p = 0.548) and delirium (PVNB: 12.4% vs. EA:12.9 %, p = 0.862). We also found no statistically significant difference between these groups in terms of 90-day respiratory complications (p = 1.000), 90-day readmission (p = 0.111), 90-day mortality (p = 0.718), and 90-day need for mechanical ventilation (p = 1.000). Conclusion: The use of PVNB in geriatric trauma patients with multiple rib fractures is associated with comparable in-hospital and post-discharge outcomes relative to EA. PVNB is relatively easy to perform and has a better side effect profile. The use of PVNB as part of rib fracture management protocols warrants further consideration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number111184
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2024


  • Epidural analgesia
  • Geriatric trauma
  • Paravertebral nerve block
  • Rib fractures

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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