Introduction: Chronic postthoracotomy pain is a significant adverse outcome of thoracic surgery. We evaluated with a prospective randomized trial the effect of a multimodal no-compression suture technique of the intercostal space on postoperative pain occurrence in patients undergoing minithoracotomy. Methods: Patients undergoing a muscle-sparing lateral minithoracotomy for different thoracic diseases were randomly divided into two groups: 146 patients received intercostal muscle flap harvesting and pericostal nocompression "edge" suture (the IMF group), and 151 patients received a standard suture technique associated with an intrapleural intercostal nerve block (the IINB group). Pain scores and interference of pain with daily activities were assessed by using the Italian version of the Brief Pain Inventory on day 1, and at 1 to 6 months postoperatively. The results of pulmonary function tests (spirometry and the 6-minute walking test ) were evaluated preoperatively and at 1 and 6 months postoperatively. Results: Postthoracotomy pain scores throughout the first postoperative day were significantly lower in the IMF group. After 1 and 6 months, patients in the IMF group had a significantly lower average pain score (p = 0.001). There were no significant differences in pain interference scores at each evaluation time point in either group. However, differences were shown in lung function test results at 1 and 6 months postoperatively (the forced expiratory volume in 1 second in the IINB group averaged 68.8 ± 17.4% of predicted value and 72.8 ± 10.5%, respectively, and in the IMF group it averaged 83.1 ± 7.4% and 86.4 ± 12.8%, respectively [p = 0.023 and 0.013, respectively]; the 6-minute walking test results in the IINB group averaged 311.1 ± 51.0 and 329.9 ± 54.8 m, respectively, and those in the IMF group averaged 371.2 ± 54.8 and 395.7 ± 56.4 m, respectively [p = 0.0001]). Conclusions: The multimodal no-compression suture technique is a rapid and feasible procedure that reduces the intensity of early and chronic postthoracotomy pain.
- Edge suture
- Intercostal muscle flap
- Intrapleural intercostal nerve block
- Post-Thoracotomy pain