Can we gain an advantage by combining distal median, radial and ulnar nerve blocks with supraclavicular block? A randomized controlled study

Basak Ceyda Meco, Menekse Ozcelik, Derya Gokmen Oztuna, Mehmet Armangil, Cigdem Yildirim Guclu, Sanem Cakar Turhan, Feyhan Okten
Journal of Anesthesia 2015, 29 (2): 217-22

PURPOSE: The aim of this study was to compare the combined ultrasound-guided supraclavicular brachial plexus block (SCB) and distal median, radial, and ulnar nerve blocks, with the supraclavicular block alone.

METHOD: Sixty-two patients undergoing upper extremity surgery were randomized to supraclavicular only (Group S, n = 31) or supraclavicular + distal (Group SD, n = 31) group. Patients in Group S received 32 mL of 1.5 % lidocaine + epinephrine 5 µg/mL, while those in Group SD received 20 mL of 1.5 % lidocaine + epinephrine 5 µg/mL followed by distal median, radial, and ulnar nerve blocks using equal volumes of 2 % lidocaine + 0.5 % levobupivacaine (4 mL/nerve). Sensory and motor blocks of the ulnar, median, radial and musculocutaneous nerves were assessed every 5 min starting at the 10th minute. The imaging, needling and performance times were recorded. Also, the onset and anesthesia-related times, need for analgesic and first analgesic times, were noted.

RESULTS: In Group SD, the anesthesia onset [15 (10-25) vs. 20 (15-30) min, p < 0.001] and anesthesia related times [16.6 (10.7-28.2) vs. 22 (15.9-33.7) min, p < 0.001] were significantly shorter than those of Group S. Additionally, the analgesic requirement was lower in Group SD (56.7 vs. 88.5 %, p = 0.009), while among the patients who required analgesic, the first analgesic time was longer in Group SD in comparison to Group S [625 (347-1764) vs. 315 (233-746) min p < 0.001].

CONCLUSIONS: The addition of distal median, radial, and ulnar nerve blocks to SCB shortens anesthesia-related time and anesthesia onset time when compared with a SCB alone.

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