JOURNAL ARTICLE
RANDOMIZED CONTROLLED TRIAL

Comparative effectiveness of infraclavicular and supraclavicular perineural catheters for ultrasound-guided through-the-catheter bolus anesthesia

T Kyle Harrison, T Edward Kim, Steven K Howard, Natasha Funck, Michael J Wagner, Tessa L Walters, Catherine Curtin, James Chang, Toni Ganaway, Edward R Mariano
Journal of Ultrasound in Medicine: Official Journal of the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine 2015, 34 (2): 333-40
25614407

OBJECTIVES: Using a through-the-needle local anesthetic bolus technique, ultrasound-guided infraclavicular perineural catheters have been shown to provide greater analgesia compared to supraclavicular catheters. A through-the-catheter bolus technique, which arguably "tests" the anesthetic efficacy of the catheter before initiating an infusion, has been validated for infraclavicular catheters but not supraclavicular catheters. This study investigated the through-the-catheter bolus technique for supraclavicular catheters and tested the hypothesis that infraclavicular catheters provide faster onset of brachial plexus anesthesia.

METHODS: Preoperatively, patients were randomly assigned to receive either a supraclavicular or an infraclavicular catheter using an ultrasound-guided nonstimulating catheter insertion technique with a mepivacaine bolus via the catheter and ropivacaine perineural infusion initiated postoperatively. The primary outcome was time to achieve complete sensory anesthesia in the ulnar and median nerve distributions. Secondary outcomes included procedural time, procedure-related pain and complications, and postoperative pain, opioid consumption, sleep disturbances, and motor weakness.

RESULTS: Fifty patients were enrolled in the study; all but 2 perineural catheters were successfully placed per protocol. Twenty-one of 24 (88%) and 24 of 24 (100%) patients in the supraclavicular and infraclavicular groups, respectively, achieved complete sensory anesthesia by 30 minutes (P= .088). There was no difference in the time to achieve complete sensory anesthesia. Supraclavicular patients reported more sleep disturbances postoperatively, but there were no statistically significant differences in other outcomes.

CONCLUSIONS: Both supraclavicular and infraclavicular perineural catheters using a through-the-catheter bolus technique provide effective brachial plexus anesthesia.

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