COMPARATIVE STUDY
JOURNAL ARTICLE
RANDOMIZED CONTROLLED TRIAL

Brachial plexus anaesthesia in children: lateral infraclavicular vs axillary approach

E Fleischmann, P Marhofer, M Greher, B Waltl, C Sitzwohl, S Kapral
Paediatric Anaesthesia 2003, 13 (2): 103-8
12562481

BACKGROUND: Brachial plexus blockade is a well-established technique in upper-limb surgery. In paediatric patients, the axillary route is usually preferred to infraclavicular approaches because of safety considerations. Recent reports on a lateral infraclavicular approach offering greater safety in adults prompted us to perform a prospective randomized study to assess the analgesic efficacy of axillary vs lateral vertical infraclavicular brachial plexus (LVIBP) blocks in paediatric trauma surgery.

METHODS: Forty paediatric trauma patients (ASA physical status I and II, age range 1-10 years) scheduled for forearm or hand surgery were randomly assigned to either axillary brachial plexus (ABP group) or LVIBP group blocks using 0.5 ml.kg(-1) ropivacaine 0.5%. Sensory blockade was evaluated by a visual analogue score and Vester-Andersen's criteria, the distribution of sensory and motor blockade was evaluated by a simplified pinprick test and motor tests.

RESULTS: In the LVIBP group, Vester-Andersen's criteria were met by 100% of children, compared with 80% in the ABP group (P=0.035). Based on all assessable children, sensory blockade in the primary sensory regions of various nerves was significantly more effective in the LVIBP group (axillary: P < 0.0001; musculocutaneous: P=0.002; medial brachial cutaneous; P=0.008). Motor blockade was also significantly more effective (axillary: P < 0.0001; musculocutaneous: P=0.003). No major complications were observed in either group.

DISCUSSION: We conclude that LVIBP blocks can be safely performed in children and that they add to the spectrum of sensory and motor blockade seen with the axillary approach.

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