Rectus sheath block (RSB) has been increasingly used for pain management after laparoscopic procedures but with a conflicting data on its analgesic efficacy. We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to evaluate the efficacy and safety of RSB in adults undergoing laparoscopic surgery.
A systematic literature search of the PubMed, Embase, CINAHL, and Cochrane Library databases was conducted from inception through October 1, 2020, to identify trials comparing RSB with a control group in laparoscopic surgery. The primary outcome was rest pain scores at 0-2 h postoperatively. Secondary outcomes included pain scores at rest at 10-12 and 24 h postoperatively, pain scores on movement at 0-2, 10-12, and 24 h postoperatively, 24- and 48-h opioid consumption, opioid-related side effects, and RSB-associated adverse events.
Nine trials with 698 patients were included. RSB was associated with significantly lower rest pain scores at 0-2 h postoperatively (standardized mean difference -1.83, 95% confidence interval [-2.70, -0.96], P < 0.001, I = 95%) than control. Furthermore, RSB significantly reduced pain scores at rest at 10-12 h postoperatively and on movement at 0-2 h postoperatively, 24-h opioid consumption, and opioid-related side effects. Other secondary outcomes were similar between groups. Preoperative RSB provided better pain control compared with postoperative block administration. None of the studies reported local or systemic complications related to RSB.
In the setting of laparoscopic surgery, RSB improves pain control for up to 12 h postoperatively and reduces opioid consumption, without major reported adverse events.

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