Neurological complication analysis of 1000 ultrasound guided peripheral nerve blocks for elective orthopaedic surgery: a prospective study

M J Fredrickson, D H Kilfoyle
Anaesthesia 2009, 64 (8): 836-44
Little data exists regarding the frequency of neurological complications following ultrasound guided peripheral nerve blockade. Therefore, we studied single injection and continuous ultrasound guided interscalene, supraclavicular, infraclavicular, femoral and sciatic nerve blocks in patients undergoing orthopaedic extremity surgery. All patients were contacted during postoperative weeks 2-4 and questioned for numbness or altered sensation anywhere in the involved extremity, and pain or weakness unrelated to surgery. The presumed aetiology of symptoms was based on the collective agreement of principal investigator, primary surgeon and a neurologist. Multivariate analysis was performed for characteristics potentially important in the causation of neurological complications. Of 1010 consecutive blocks, successful follow up between weeks 2 and 4 occurred in 98.6%. New, all-cause, neurological symptoms were present in 56/690 blocks (8.2%) at day 10, 37/1010 (3.7%) at 1 month and 6/1010 (0.6%) at 6 months. Most symptoms were due to causes unrelated to the block. Of 452 patients directly questioned at the time of the block, new neurological symptoms were more common in patients who experienced procedure-induced paraesthesia (odds ratio = 1.7, p = 0.029). The postoperative neurological symptom rate in this series is very similar to those previously reported following traditional techniques.

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