Canadian journal of anaesthesia = Journal canadien d'anesthesie

Complications of single-injection ultrasound-guided infraclavicular block: a cohort study.

PMID 23212697


In recent studies on ultrasound-guided infraclavicular block (ICB), the authors have favoured a single injection posterior to the axillary artery rather than multiple injections; however, procedural complications and success rates associated with single-injection ultrasound-guided ICB are not well known. We undertook an observational study to evaluate the success rates of experienced and non-experienced operators performing ICBs and to identify the complications associated with ultrasound-guided single-injection ICB. We conducted an observational cohort study of all ultrasound-guided single-injection ICBs performed over a two-year period (2008-2010). We identified the subjects for our study using a local database and excluded patients younger than 18 yr and those who received a continuous ICB. Complications (non-neurological and neurological) and ICB success rates were the primary and secondary end points, respectively. We collected the following data from patients' charts: patient demographics, types of complications and their respective frequencies, and the experience of the clinician performing the ICBs, and we identified potential late complications by telephone interview. Using a seven-point Likert scale, two experts in regional anesthesia evaluated the likelihood of a relationship between the identified neurological signs or symptoms and the ICB. A neurologist then evaluated the complications identified as being potentially related to the ICB. Summary data were collated, and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were calculated. We reviewed 627 ICB procedures, and 496 (79%) patients received telephone interviews. Most patients were males who had undergone either plastic or orthopedic surgery. Mepivacaine 1.5% was used in 96% of cases with a median volume of 30 mL [interquartile range 30-38]. We identified 131 cases of neurological signs or symptoms. Four cases were retained as possible links to the ICB, but they underwent complete resolution of symptoms at the time of evaluation. Two possible cases of local anesthetic toxicity were observed. There was a 93% success rate (95% CI 91 to 95) and the results were comparable between the experienced and the non-experienced operators (94% vs 93%, respectively). We observed few complications associated with a single-injection ultrasound-guided ICB and a high success rate regardless of the operator's expertise. The technique appears to be reliable, easy to perform, and safe.