Safety of Erector Spinae Plane Blocks in Patients With Chest Wall Trauma on Venous Thromboembolism Prophylaxis

Published:February 27, 2021DOI:


      • Severe rib fractures require multi-modal pain regimens which can include neuraxial blockades.
      • Chemoprophylaxis has to be held when performing these blockades, placing patients at increase risk for venothrombotic events.
      • The erector spinae plane block is a new blockade that can be safely placed while not holding chemoprophylaxis.



      Current guidelines for severe rib fractures recommend neuraxial blockade in addition to multimodal pain therapies. While the guidelines for venous thromboembolism prevention recommend chemoprophylaxis, these medications must be held for neuraxial blockade placement. Erector spinae plane block (ESPB) is a newly described block for thoracic pain control. Advantages include its quick learning curve and potential for less bleeding complications. We describe the use of ESPB for rib fractures in patients on chemoprophylaxis. We hypothesize that ESPB can be performed in this patient population without holding chemoprophylaxis.

      Materials and methods

      This was a retrospective observational cohort study of a level 1 trauma center from 9/2016 to 12/2018. All patients with trauma with rib fractures undergoing neuraxial blockade or ESPB were included. Demographics, chemoprophylaxis and anticoagulation regimens, outcomes, and complications were collected.


      Nine hundred sixty-four patients with rib fracture(s) were admitted. Of these, 73 had a pain management consult. Thirteen had epidural catheters and 25 had ESPBs placed. There was no difference in demographics, injury patterns, bleeding complications, or venous thromboembolism rates among the groups. Patients with ESPB were less likely to have a dose of chemoprophylaxis held because of placement of a catheter (25% versus 100%, P < 0.00001). Three patients with ESPB were on oral anticoagulation on admission, and two were able to continue their regimen during placement.


      ESPB can be safely placed in patients on chemoprophylaxis. It should be considered over traditional blocks in patients with blunt chest wall trauma because of its technical ease and ability to be performed with chemoprophylaxis.


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