Prospective, randomized comparison of deep or superficial cervical plexus block for carotid endarterectomy surgery

M D Stoneham, A R Doyle, J D Knighton, P Dorje, J C Stanley
Anesthesiology 1998, 89 (4): 907-12

BACKGROUND: Carotid endarterectomy may be performed under cervical plexus block with local anesthetic supplementation by the surgeon as necessary during surgery. It is unclear, however, whether deep or superficial cervical plexus block offers the best operating conditions or patient satisfaction. Therefore, the authors compared the two in patients undergoing carotid endarterectomy.

METHODS: Forty patients undergoing carotid endarterectomy were randomized to receive either a superficial or a deep cervical plexus block with 20 ml bupivacaine, 0.375%. Outcomes subjected to statistical analysis included supplemental anesthetic supplementation with lidocaine, 1%, by the surgeon, dermatomes affected by the block, paresthesia during block placement, postoperative pain scores, and analgesic requirements.

RESULTS: Median supplemental lidocaine requirements were 6 ml (range, 0.5 to 20 ml) in the deep block group and 6 ml (range, 0 to 20 ml) in the superficial block group (P = 0.7323). Patients in the deep block group who reported paresthesia during block placement required less lidocaine supplementation (median, 2; range, 0.5 to 20 ml) than the 9.5 ml (range, 6 to 15.5 ml) required by those who did not experience paresthesia (P = 0.0113). Compared with patients in the superficial block group, those in the deep block group were less likely to need analgesia in the first 24 h after operation (P = 0.047), and those who required analgesia received it later (6.6 +/- 4.1 vs. 3.9 +/- 1.4 h after operation; Student's t test, P = 0.02). One patient in each group expressed dissatisfaction with the technique.

CONCLUSIONS: Carotid endarterectomy may be performed satisfactorily during superficial or deep cervical plexus block placement with no differences in terms of supplemental local anesthetic requirements, although this is influenced by whether paresthesia is elicited during placement of the deep block. Therefore, the clinician's decision to use one block rather than another need not be based on any assumed superiority of one block based on intraoperative conditions or patient satisfaction.

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