Neuraxial Regional Anaesthesia in Patients with Active Infection and Sepsis: A Clinical Narrative Review

Ana María Gimeno, Carlos Luis Errando
Turkish Journal of Anaesthesiology and Reanimation 2018, 46 (1): 8-14
Infection is considered to be a relative contraindication for regional anaesthesia. However, there is a paucity of articles addressing the topic of regional anaesthesia in patients with an active infectious process. Recent publications show a low incidence of infection (0.007% to 0.6%) of the central nervous system after neuraxial punctures in patients at risk of, or with ongoing bacteraemia, and a low incidence of infection after performing regional anaesthesia techniques in immunosuppressed patients, or patients with an actual infection. Therefore, some authors conclude that it seems that there is little justification to set strict contraindications regarding this indication and that the risk-benefit ratio should prevail. In addition, a low incidence of meningitis or abscesses after the lumbar puncture has been observed in patients with unsuspected and ongoing bacteraemia, or who were at risk of bacteraemia, when antibiotic therapy has been previously started. For viral infections, regional techniques seem to be safe, being applied in patients with HIV infection. The only established absolute contraindication for any type of regional anaesthesia technique is the infection at the puncture site. Debate persists if a neuraxial anaesthesia technique is to be performed in the course of sepsis with the origin away from the puncture site. In case of thoracic epidural anaesthesia and analgesia, experimental and clinical studies highlight their potential benefits in the systemic inflammatory response syndromes and founded sepsis, both in surgical and non-surgical patients. Finally, the anti-inflammatory and anti-infective effects of local anaesthetics and the basis of excessive inflammatory response are described, as the latter might be involved, in part, in the clinical outcomes.

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