Digital pressure during interscalene block is clinically ineffective in preventing anesthetic spread to the cervical plexus

William F. Urmey, Paolo Grossi, Nigel E. Sharrock, Jennifer Stanton, Paul J. Gloeggler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The application of digital pressure above the injection site during interscalene block has been advocated to prevent cephalad spread of local anesthetic. In prior studies, radiographs taken immediately after interscalene injection of radiographic contrast have supported this concept. However, the clinical efficacy of digital pressure has not been previously tested. If digital pressure were effective in inhibiting cephalad spread of local anesthetic has not been previously tested. If digital pressure were effective in inhibiting cephalad spread of local anesthetic, attenuation of both hemidiaphragmatic paresis and the resulting compromise in pulmonary function would be expected. Sensory, motor, and pulmonary effects were prospectively evaluated in 20 patients presenting for elective shoulder surgery. Patients were randomly assigned to receive interscalene block with or without digital pressure. No clinical differences were seen between groups. All 20 patients had ipsilateral hemidiaphragmatic paresis by ultrasonographic evaluation and large mean decreases in forced vital capacity, 31.2% ± 7.8% (with digital pressure), 33.7% ± 12.8% (without digital pressure), and forced expiratory volume at one second, 27.9% ± 9.3% (with digital pressure), 33.7% ± 12.8% (without digital pressure). Peak sensory level of anesthesia to pinprick was not significantly different between groups, each group having mean levels of C-2 to C-3. Digital pressure was ineffective in limiting the flow of local anesthetic into the cervical plexus. Digital pressure influenced neither the incidence of diaphragmatic paresis nor the resulting large decreases in pulmonary function that result from interscalene block.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)366-370
Number of pages5
JournalAnesthesia and Analgesia
Volume83
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine

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