Racial Disparities in the Use of Peripheral Nerve Blocks for Postoperative Analgesia After Total Mastectomy: A Retrospective Cohort Study

Document Type

Journal Article

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Anesthesia and analgesia




BACKGROUND: Peripheral nerve blocks (PNBs) are used to provide postoperative analgesia after total mastectomy. PNBs improve patient satisfaction and decrease postoperative opioid use, nausea, and vomiting. Few studies have examined whether there is racial-ethnic disparity in the use of PNBs for patients having total mastectomy. We hypothesized that non-Hispanic Asian, non-Hispanic Black, non-Hispanic patients of other races, and Hispanic patients would be less likely to receive a PNB for postoperative analgesia compared to non-Hispanic White patients having total mastectomy. Secondarily, we hypothesized that PNBs would be associated with reduced odds of major complications after total mastectomy. METHODS: We performed a retrospective cohort study using National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (NSQIP) data from 2015 to 2019. Patients were included if they underwent total mastectomy under general anesthesia. Unadjusted rates of PNB use were compared between race-ethnicity groups. Multivariable logistic regression was performed to determine whether race-ethnicity group was independently associated with receipt of a PNB for postoperative analgesia. Secondarily, we calculated crude and risk-adjusted odds ratios for major complications in patients who received a PNB. RESULTS: There were 64,103 patients who underwent total mastectomy and 4704 (7.3%) received a PNB for postoperative analgesia. Patients who received a PNB were younger, more commonly women, were less likely to have diabetes and hypertension, and had less disseminated cancer (all P < .05). In our regression analysis, the odds of receiving a PNB differed significantly by race-ethnicity group (P < .001). Non-Hispanic Asian and non-Hispanic Black patients had reduced odds of receiving a PNB compared to non-Hispanic White patients (odds ratio [OR], 0.41; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.33-0.49 and OR, 0.37 [0.32-0.44]), respectively. Non-Hispanic patients of other races, including American Indian, Alaskan Native, and Pacific Islander, also had reduced odds of receiving a PNB (OR, 0.73 [95% CI, 0.64-0.84]) compared to non-Hispanic White patients, as did Hispanic patients (OR, 0.62 [0.56-0.69]). Patients who received a PNB did not have reduced odds of major complications after mastectomy (crude OR, 0.83 [0.65-1.08]; P = .17 and adjusted OR, 0.85 [0.65-1.10]; P = .21). CONCLUSIONS: Significant disparity exists in the use of PNBs for postoperative analgesia in patients of different race-ethnicity who undergo total mastectomy in the United States. Continued efforts are needed to better understand the causes of disparity and to ensure equitable access to PNBs.


Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine