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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Diaphragmatic Excursion as a Novel Objective Measure of Serratus Anterior Plane Block Efficacy: A Case Series


Introduction: Pain scales are often used in peripheral nerve block studies but are problematic due to their subjective nature. Ultrasound-measured diaphragmatic excursion is an easily learned technique that could provide a much-needed objective measure of pain control over time with serial measurements.

Case Series: We describe three cases where diaphragmatic excursion was used as an objective measure of decreased pain and improved respiratory function after serratus anterior plane block in emergency department patients with anterior or lateral rib fractures.

Conclusion: Diaphragmatic excursion may be an ideal alternative to pain scores to evaluate serratus anterior plane block efficacy. More data will be needed to determine whether this technique can be applied to other ultrasound-guided nerve blocks.

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