Analgesic effect of interscalene block using low-dose bupivacaine for outpatient arthroscopic shoulder surgery

A Al-Kaisy, G McGuire, V W Chan, G Bruin, P Peng, A Miniaci, A Perlas
Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine 1998, 23 (5): 469-73

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Although interscalene brachial plexus block (ISBPB) is often used to provide anesthesia for arthroscopic shoulder surgery, its selective analgesic effect, provided by low-dose local anesthetic, has not been studied. We hypothesized that ISBPB using a low volume and low concentration of bupivacaine can provide effective postoperative analgesia for shoulder surgery without producing significant sensory or motor block elsewhere.

METHODS: In this double-blind study, 30 outpatients scheduled to undergo shoulder arthroscopy were randomly assigned to receive either an ISBPB with 10 mL 0.125% bupivacaine with epinephrine 1:400,000 (n = 15) or 10 mL of normal saline (n = 15). The block was performed preoperative, prior to a standardized general anesthetic. Postoperative pain scores, imorphine and oral analgesic consumption, recovery profile, and patient satisfaction were recorded.

RESULTS: In the ISBPB group, verbal analog pain scores within 120 minutes after surgery were lower, morphine consumption in the postanesthesia care unit was significantly lower (2.7+/-2.6 mg vs 9.5+/-5.2 mg), the time to postoperative administration of the first systemic or oral analgesic was significantly longer (141+/-182 minutes vs 13+/-10 minutes), the degree of motor and sensory block 120 minutes after surgery was minimal, time to reach hospital discharge criteria was earlier, and patient satisfaction with postoperative analgesia at 24-hour follow-up was greater. Thirty-three percent of the patients receiving ISBPB did not require any analgesic prior to hospital discharge.

CONCLUSIONS: Interscalene brachial plexus block with low-dose bupivacaine is a useful and selective analgesic technique for outpatient shoulder arthroscopic surgery.

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