Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Cryoanalgesia for relief of pain after thoracotomy.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1981; 282 doi: (Published 30 May 1981) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1981;282:1749
  1. O Maiwand,
  2. A R Makey


    One hundred patients undergoing thoracotomy had their intercostal nerves blocked by cryoanalgesia before closure and the effect of this on their postoperative pain was evaluated. Of the 100 patients, 79 were free of pain, 12 had some discomfort, and nine reported severe pain necessitating narcotic analgesia (mean 1.5 injections per patient). Only five patients needed assisted removal of sputum, though eight showed retention of sputum or subsegmental collapse of lung radiographically. Overall, lack of pain and greater alertness much enhanced the value of physiotherapy, which resulted in a low incidence of complications and a smooth recovery. The technique of cryoanalgesia is simple, extremely effective, and apparently offers benefits not conferred by other methods of preventing pain after thoracotomy.