Intercostal Cryo Nerve Block in Minimally Invasive Cardiac Surgery: The Prospective Randomized FROST Trial.

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Pain Ther


INTRODUCTION: Intercostal cryo nerve block has been shown to enhance pulmonary function recovery and pain management in post-thoracotomy procedures. However, its benefit have never been demonstrated in minimal invasive thoracotomy heart valve surgery (Mini-HVS). The purpose of the study was to determine whether intraoperative intercostal cryo nerve block in conjunction with standard of care (collectively referred to hereafter as CryoNB) provided superior analgesic efficacy in patients undergoing Mini-HVS compared to standard-of-care (SOC).

METHODS: FROST was a prospective, 3:1 randomized (CryoNB vs. SOC), multicenter trial in patients undergoing Mini-HVS. The primary endpoint was the 48-h postoperative forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1) result. Secondary endpoints were visual analog scale (VAS) scores for pain at the surgical site and general pain, intensive care unit and hospital length-of-stay, total opioid consumption, and allodynia at 6 months postoperatively.

RESULTS: A total of 84 patients were randomized to the two arms of the trial CryoNB (n = 65) and SOC (n = 19). Baseline Society of Thoracic Surgeons Predictive Risk of Mortality (STS PROM) score, ejection fraction, and FEV1 were similar between cohorts. A higher 48-h postoperative FEV1 result was demonstrated in the CryoNB cohort versus the SOC cohort (1.20 ± 0.46 vs. 0.93 ± 0.43 L; P = 0.02, one-sided two-sample t test). Surgical site VAS scores were similar between the CryoNB and SOC cohorts at all postoperative timepoints evaluated, but VAS scores not related to the surgical site were lower in the SOC group at 72, 94, and 120 h postoperatively. The SOC cohort had a 13% higher opioid consumption than the CryoNB cohort. One of 64 CryoNB patients reported allodynia that did not require pain medication at 10 months.

CONCLUSIONS: The results of FROST demonstrated that intercostal CryoNB provided enhanced FEV1 score at 48 h postoperatively with optimized analgesic effectiveness versus SOC. Future larger prospective randomized trials are warranted to determine whether intercostal CryoNB has an opioid-sparing effect in patients undergoing Mini-HVS.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: identifier: NCT02922153.





First Page


Last Page






PubMed ID