Inter-Semispinalis Plane Block Versus General Anesthesia for Postoperative Analgesia in Posterior Cervical Spine Surgery: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Background: Postoperative pain management is crucial for improving patient outcomes following posterior cervical spine surgery. Opioids are effective but carry a risk of respiratory depression. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are commonly used but may not provide adequate pain relief and have potential complications. The inter-semispinalis plane (ISPB) block is a novel technique for postoperative analgesia in cervical spine surgery. Objectives: This study aims to evaluate and compare the efficacy of the ISPB with general anesthesia in terms of analgesia, postoperative Visual Analog Scale (VAS) pain scores, patient-surgeon satisfaction levels, and the occurrence of postoperative complications. Methods: This double-blind, randomized controlled trial was blinded to both the patient and the assessor. Fifty adult patients (18 - 60 years old) undergoing elective posterior cervical spine surgery were enrolled. The participants were divided into 2 groups: The ISPB group (receiving bilateral ultrasound-guided ISPB at the C5 level) and the control group (receiving general anesthesia only), with each group comprising 25 patients. The study assessed intraoperative fentanyl use, postoperative VAS pain levels, the need for rescue analgesia, and complications. Results: The ISPB group showed significantly lower intraoperative fentanyl consumption (median 100 vs. 100 - 150 μg, P = 0.022) and lower postoperative pain scores at 1, 8, 12, and 48 hours (P = 0.016, 0.009, 0.005, 0.016). Additionally, the ISPB group required less postoperative pethidine (20% vs. 64%, P = 0.002) and had a longer delay before requesting pethidine (hazard ratio 0.215, P = 0.001). Surgeon satisfaction was significantly higher in the ISPB group (P = 0.003). These results suggest that the ISPB can effectively reduce pain and analgesic requirements. Conclusions: The ISPB is an effective analgesic technique for posterior cervical spine surgery, reducing opioid consumption, providing better pain control, and enhancing surgeon satisfaction without increasing complications. This approach has the potential to improve postoperative care and patient outcomes in this surgical population.