Comparison of dexmedetomidine and dexamethasone as adjuvant for ropivacaine in ultrasound-guided erector spinae plane block for video-assisted thoracoscopic lobectomy surgery: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial

Zhixin Gao, Yimin Xiao, Qing Wang, Yuanhai Li


Background: Adding an adjuvant, such as dexmedetomidine or dexamethasone, to a nerve block improves its quality and reduces perioperative opioid consumption. We aimed to compare the effect of dexmedetomidine and dexamethasone as an adjuvant for the erector spinae plane block (ESPB) to control postoperative pain after video-assisted thoracoscopic lobectomy surgery (VATLS).
Methods: Ninety patients, aged 20–65 years who were scheduled to undergo VATLS were enrolled in this trial. The visual analogue scale (VAS) score changes at various time points [waking up in post-anesthesia care unit (PACU) and 2, 4, 6, 8, 12, 24, 48, 72 h after surgery], duration of sensory block, first request to use the patient controlled analgesia (PCA) device, total PCA use, postoperative nausea and vomiting (PONV), rate of rescue analgesia use, and post-surgical hospital stay were recorded.
Results: VAS score was lower in the ropivacaine with dexmedetomidine (RM) group at wake up and at postoperative 2, 4, 12, and 24 h. The median duration of sensory blockade was significantly longer in the RM group (P=0.001). First request to use the PCA machine in the RM group was prolonged significantly compared with that in the ropivacaine alone (R) group and ropivacaine with dexamethasone (RS) group (P<0.001). Total PCA use, post-surgical hospital stay, and rate of rescue analgesia use in The RM group were reduced significantly compared with those in the R and RS groups.
Conclusions: Using dexmedetomidine (1 μg/kg), instead of dexamethasone (10 mg), as an adjuvant of ESPB with ropivacaine, prolonged sensory block duration, provided effective acute pain control, and required lesser rescue analgesia and shorter hospital stays.