Patient-controlled interscalene analgesia with ropivacaine 0.2% versus bupivacaine 0.15% after major open shoulder surgery: the effects on hand motor function

A Borgeat, F Kalberer, H Jacob, Y A Ruetsch, C Gerber
Anesthesia and Analgesia 2001, 92 (1): 218-23

UNLABELLED: We compared the effects of patient-controlled interscalene analgesia with ropivacaine 0.2% and patient-controlled interscalene analgesia (PCIA) with bupivacaine 0.15% on hand grip strength after major open shoulder surgery. Sixty patients scheduled for elective major shoulder surgery were prospectively randomized to receive in a double-blinded fashion either ropivacaine or bupivacaine through an interscalene catheter. Before surgery, all patients received an interscalene block (ISB) with either 40 mL of 0.6% ropivacaine or 40 mL of 0.5% bupivacaine. Six h after ISB, the patients received a continuous infusion of either 0.2% ropivacaine or 0.15% bupivacaine for 48 h. In both groups, the PCIA infusion rate was 5 mL/h plus a bolus of 4 mL with a lockout time of 20 min. Strength in the hand was assessed preoperatively, 24 h, and 48 h after ISB and 6 h after stopping the infusion of local anesthetic. The presence of paresthesia in the fingers was checked. Pain relief was assessed using a visual analog scale; side effects were noted, and the patients rated their satisfaction 54 h after the block. A significant decrease of strength in the hand was observed in the Bupivacaine group 24, 48, and 54 h after ISB (P < 0.05). Paresthesia was more frequently reported in the Bupivacaine group for the second and third fingers 48 h after ISB (P < 0.05) and in the first three fingers 6 h after discontinuation of the local anesthetic infusion (P: < 0.05). The pain score was similar in the two groups at all times, and patient satisfaction was comparable between the two groups. We conclude that the use of the PCIA technique with ropivacaine 0.2% or bupivacaine 0.15% provides a similar pain relief after major shoulder surgery. However, ropivacaine 0.2% is associated with better preservation of strength in the hand and less paresthesia in the fingers.

IMPLICATIONS: We compared the patient-controlled interscalene analgesia technique with ropivacaine 0.2% and bupivacaine 0.15% after major open shoulder surgery. For similar pain control ropivacaine is associated with better preservation of strength in the hand and less paresthesia in the fingers.

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