Pain relief and motor function during continuous interscalene analgesia after open shoulder surgery: a prospective, randomized, double-blind comparison between levobupivacaine 0.25%, and ropivacaine 0.25% or 0.4%

B Borghi, F Facchini, V Agnoletti, A Adduci, A Lambertini, E Marini, P Gallerani, V Sassoli, M Luppi, A Casati
European Journal of Anaesthesiology 2006, 23 (12): 1005-9

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: To compare pain relief and motor impairment of 0.25% levobupivacaine with either an equivalent (0.25%) or equipotent (0.4%) concentration of ropivacaine for continuous interscalene block after open shoulder surgery.

METHODS: Seventy-two adult patients scheduled for elective major shoulder surgery received an interscalene injection of mepivacaine 1.5% 30 mL followed by 24 h patient-controlled interscalene analgesia (basal infusion rate: 5 mL h-1; incremental bolus: 2 mL; lockout period: 10 min; maximum boluses per hour: 4) with either 0.25% levobupivacaine (n = 24), 0.25% ropivacaine (n = 24) or 0.4% ropivacaine (n = 24). A blinded observer recorded the evolution of pain relief and recovery of motor block during the first 24 h. Motor function was assessed as the maximum pressure developed while squeezing a sphygmomanometer cuff with the blocked hand. The reduction from preoperative values was considered as an index of motor impairment.

RESULTS: No differences were reported among the three groups in the quality of postoperative analgesia. The number of incremental patient-controlled interscalene analgesia doses, total volume of local anaesthetic infused during the 24-h patient-controlled interscalene analgesia, and number of rescue ketoprofen analgesia were higher in the ropivacaine 0.25% group than in the other two groups (P = 0.0005). The hand strength recovered to >or=90% of baseline values within the first 24 h of infusion in all groups, without differences among the three groups.

CONCLUSION: When providing patient-controlled interscalene analgesia after open shoulder surgery 0.25% levobupivacaine and 0.4% ropivacaine performed equally in terms of pain relief, motor block and number of patient-controlled boluses required, while patients receiving 0.25% ropivacaine needed significantly more boluses and rescue analgesia to control their pain.

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