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Clinical Trial Summary

Sacrifice of the intercostobrachial nerve (ICBN) during surgery is associated with development of persistent post-surgical pain (PPSP), which affects up to 60% of breast cancer surgery patients. A large, definitive trial is needed to establish whether nerve preservation techniques are effective in reducing post-surgical pain after breast cancer surgery. If the effect of ICBN preservation is consistent with observational studies, the absolute reduction of rates of persistent pain would be considerable.The primary objective is to determine the effect of ICBN preservation, versus usual care, on the prevalence and intensity of PPSP at one year after breast cancer surgery involving axillary lymph node dissection (ALND).


Clinical Trial Description

A 2016 systematic review that included 30 observational studies (n= 19,813 patients) found high quality evidence that axillary lymph node dissection (ALND) is associated with a 21% absolute risk increase of PPSP (95% CI = 13% to 29%). In many cases of breast cancer, surgery involves axillary approaches; however, preliminary evidence suggests that preservation of the intercostobrachial nerves (ICBN) may reduce the incidence of PPSP after axillary clearance. A 2014 systematic review found 3 small, single-center randomized controlled trials (RCTs), that enrolled a total of 309 patients, and explored the effect of ICBN preservation versus sacrifice during breast cancer surgery. This review found that division of the ICBN was associated with higher risk of sensory deficits, and that nerve preservation techniques increased the median operating time by 5 minutes. Due to limitations of existing evidence, clinical practice guidelines currently provide no recommendations on whether the ICBN should be preserved during axillary lymph node dissection.A large, definitive trial is needed to establish whether nerve preservation techniques are effective in reducing PPSP after breast cancer surgery involving ALND. If all the apparent effect of axillary dissection is associated with lack of ICBN preservation, the absolute reduction of rates of PPSP would be considerable. Furthermore, nerve sparing requires no specialized equipment, suggesting that scalability will be highly feasible. ;


Study Design


Related Conditions & MeSH terms


NCT number NCT03421522
Study type Interventional
Source McMaster University
Contact
Status Terminated
Phase N/A
Start date January 1, 2016
Completion date September 4, 2018

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