The addition of fentanyl to local anesthetics affects the quality and duration of cervical plexus block: a randomized, controlled trial

Radomir P Sindjelic, Gordana P Vlajkovic, Lazar B Davidovic, Dejan Z Markovic, Miroslav D Markovic
Anesthesia and Analgesia 2010, 111 (1): 234-7

BACKGROUND: Cervical plexus block is frequently associated with unsatisfactory sensory blockade. In this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, we examined whether the addition of fentanyl to local anesthetics improves the quality of cervical plexus block in patients undergoing carotid endarterectomy (CEA).

METHODS: Seventy-seven consecutive adult patients scheduled for elective CEA were randomized to receive either fentanyl 1 mL (50 microg) or saline placebo 1 mL in a mixture of 10 mL bupivacaine 0.5% and 4 mL lidocaine 2% for deep cervical plexus block. Superficial cervical plexus block was performed using a mixture of 10 mL bupivacaine 0.5% and 5 mL lidocaine 2%. Pain was assessed using the verbal rating scale (0-10; 0 = no pain, 10 = worst pain imaginable), and propofol in 20-mg IV bolus doses was given to patients reporting verbal rating scale >3 during the procedure. Rescue medication consumption during surgery and analgesia requirements over the next 24 hours, as well as onset of sensory blockade, were recorded. A P value <0.05 was regarded as statistically significant.

RESULTS: Fewer patients in the fentanyl group (4 of 38, 10.5%) required propofol compared with the placebo group (26 of 39, 66.7%; P < 0.001). In comparison with the placebo group, the fentanyl group consumed less propofol (median 0 [0-60] vs 60 [0-160] mg, respectively; P < 0.001), required postoperative analgesia less frequently (22 of 38 patients, 57.9% vs 35 of 39 patients, 89.7%, respectively; P = 0.002), and requested the first analgesic after surgery later (median 5.8 [1.9-15.6] vs 3.1 [1.0-11.7] hours, respectively; P < 0.001), whereas the onset time of sensory blockade was similar in both groups (median 12 [9-18] vs 15 [9-18] minutes, respectively; P = 0.18).

CONCLUSIONS: The addition of fentanyl to local anesthetics improved the quality and prolonged the duration of cervical plexus block in patients undergoing CEA.

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