What Is the Role of Locoregional Anesthesia in Breast Surgery?

A Systematic Literature Review Focused on Pain Intensity, Opioid Consumption, Adverse Events, and Patient Satisfaction

Pasquale Sansone; Luca Gregorio Giaccari; Mario Faenza; Pasquale Di Costanzo; Sara Izzo; Caterina Aurilio; Francesco Coppolino; Maria Beatrice Passavanti; Vincenzo Pota; Maria Caterina Pace


BMC Anesthesiol. 2020;20(290) 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Background: Breast surgery in the United States is common. Pain affects up to 50% of women undergoing breast surgery and can interfere with postoperative outcomes. General anesthesia is the conventional, most frequently used anaesthetic technique. Various locoregional anesthetic techniques are also used for breast surgeries. A systematic review of the use of locoregional anesthesia for postoperative pain in breast surgery is needed to clarify its role in pain management.

Objectives: To systematically review literature to establish the efficacy and the safety of locoregional anesthesia used in the treatment of pain after breast surgery.

Methods: Embase, MEDLINE, Google Scholar and Cochrane Central Trials Register were systematically searched in Mars 2020 for studies examining locoregional anesthesia for management of pain in adults after breast surgery. The methodological quality of the studies and their results were appraised using the Consensus-based Standards for the Selection of Health Measurement Instruments (COSMIN) checklist and specific measurement properties criteria, respectively.

Results: Nineteen studies evaluating locoregional anesthesia were included: 1058 patients underwent lumpectomy/mastectomy, 142 breast augmentation and 79 breast reduction. Locoregional anesthesia provides effective anesthesia and analgesia in the perioperative setting, however no statistically significant difference emerged if compared to other techniques. For mastectomy only, the use of locoregional techniques reduces pain in the first hour after the end of the surgery if compared to other procedures (p = 0.02). Other potentially beneficial effects of locoregional anesthesia include decreased need for opioids, decreased postoperative nausea and vomiting, fewer complications and increased patient satisfaction. All this improves postoperative recovery and shortens hospitalization stay. In none of these cases, locoregional anesthesia was statistically superior to other techniques.

Conclusion: The results of our review showed no differences between locoregional anesthesia and other techniques in the management of breast surgery. Locoregional techniques are superior in reducing pain in the first hour after mastectomy.