BACKGROUND: Minimally invasive repair of pectus excavatum (MIRPE) involves placement of a transthoracic, retrosternal support bar under thoracoscopic guidance. Despite its minimally invasive technical approach, postoperative pain is a significant morbidity that often results in increased length of stay. Multi-modal pain control strategies have been used in the past with limited success. Recently, the use of intraoperative intercostal nerve cryoablation (CA) has been added. In the present study, we aim to evaluate the effects of CA on postoperative pain control, opioid requirements, and perioperative outcomes. STUDY DESIGN: A single-center, retrospective chart review of all patients (less than 18 years old) who underwent MIRPE from 2009 to 2020 was performed. CA was started in June 2018. Data collection included demographics, preoperative characteristics, intraoperative findings, and postoperative outcomes. We hypothesized that CA would be associated with improved pain scores, lower doses of total inpatient opioid requirement, and shorter length of stay (LOS). RESULTS: One hundred sixty-one patients met inclusion criteria: 75 underwent intraoperative CA and 86 underwent MIRPE without CA (NCA group). CA significantly decreased median LOS from 4 days in NCA to 2 days; the use of CA was the only significant predictor of LOS on linear regression. CA was also associated with decreased total PCA, intravenous opioid, and oral opioid dosages. There was no difference in inpatient pain scores and a slight increase in mean procedure time. However, CA was associated with significantly decreased postoperative complications. CONCLUSIONS: The use of cryoablation during MIRPE significantly decreases LOS, perioperative opioid requirements, and postoperative complications, with a minimal increase in operative time. Cryoablation is an effective pain control modality in the surgical management of chest wall deformities in children.
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