Preliminary evaluation of infraclavicular catheters inserted using ultrasound guidance: through-the-catheter anesthesia is not inferior to through-the-needle blocks

Marie-Eve Slater, Stephan R Williams, Patrick Harris, Jean-Paul Brutus, Monique Ruel, François Girard, Daniel Boudreault
Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine 2007, 32 (4): 296-302

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: This prospective study compared the initial block quality and surgical anesthesia rates of ultrasound-guided infraclavicular blocks with local-anesthetic injected through a catheter versus through a needle. We hypothesized that positioning of the catheter immediately posterior to the axillary artery would produce through-the-catheter (TTC) anesthesia with rates of complete block not inferior to through-the-needle (TTN) injection.

METHODS: Eighty patients undergoing hand or forearm surgery extensive enough to require regional anesthesia were randomized into 2 groups of 40. In group TTN, local anesthetic was deposited posterior, lateral, and medial to the axillary artery using as few injections as necessary. In group TTC, a 20-gauge, multiorifice catheter was positioned between the posterior wall of the axillary artery and the posterior cord of the brachial plexus. All blocks were performed by use of ultrasound visualization with a 6-MHz to 10-MHz 38-mm linear probe. Local-anesthetic solution consisted of 0.5 mL/kg lidocaine 2% with epinephrine. Sensory and motor blocks, as well as supplementation rates, were evaluated for the musculocutaneous, median, radial, and ulnar nerves.

RESULTS: Complete sensory block of all nerve territories was achieved in 92% of patients in group TTN and 90% in group TTC (P = .51). In group TTN, 90% of patients had satisfactory anesthesia for surgery (no discomfort and no need for anesthetic supplementation of any type) compared with 92% in group TTC (P = .51).

CONCLUSION: Ultrasound-guided TTC infraclavicular block produced perioperative anesthesia that was not inferior to a TTN technique.

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