Supraclavicular Versus Combined Block for Ulnar and Median Distribution Hand Surgery
This study will examine how successfully nerves are blocked or frozen for hand surgery. Traditionally, the nerves are frozen at the base of the neck, just above the clavicle or collarbone (the supraclavicular block). This is mostly successful by itself, and provides anesthesia of the entire arm. Occasionally, an additional nerve block is required further down the arm, as the supraclavicular block may have missed a segment, or it is taking too long to come on. In this study the investigators will compare the traditional technique, with a similar but lower volume supraclavicular block plus an immediate low volume block of one nerve further down the arm (the ulnar or median nerve block, depending on which digits are being operated on). The investigators will compare success rates, speed of onset, procedural comfort and length of time of weakness and numbness, plus any adverse events.
Hand Surgery (Ulnar or Median Distribution)
Peripheral Nerve Block
Procedure: Combined nerve block
Procedure: Supraclavicular block
|Study Design:||Allocation: Randomized
Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment
Masking: Open Label
Primary Purpose: Supportive Care
|Official Title:||Standard Supraclavicular Block Versus Low-Volume Supraclavicular Block Plus Ulnar or Median Nerve Block for Hand Surgery in the Ulnar or Median Nerve Distribution|
- Successful anesthesia, defined as no additional local anesthetic or heavy sedation required. [ Time Frame: From injection of local anesthetic to suitable nerve blockade for surgery; approximately 20 minutes ] [ Designated as safety issue: No ]Successful anesthesia will be determined by assessing the nerve block(s) following injection of local anesthetic, and deeming the block sufficient enough for surgery to proceed without any need for additional local anesthetic or heavy sedation. The period between the initial injection and successful anesthesia is approximately 20 minutes, depending on the patient.
- Time to successful anesthetic block from withdrawal of final needle [ Time Frame: Approximately 20 minutes ] [ Designated as safety issue: No ]The period between final withdrawal of the needle to successful nerve block following assessment will be timed.
- Time for procedure, from placement of probe on skin to withdrawal of needle [ Time Frame: Approximately 30 minutes ] [ Designated as safety issue: No ]The period between initial placement and positioning of the ultrasound probe on the patient to final withdrawal of the needle will be timed.
- Duration of analgesia [ Time Frame: Approximately 6 hours ] [ Designated as safety issue: No ]The length of time between successful nerve block (i.e., when patient is ready for surgery) to the time the anesthesia wears off will be sought.
- Duration of motor blockade [ Time Frame: Approximately one hour ] [ Designated as safety issue: No ]The time taken for the patient to recover motor capability in the area anesthetized following local anesthetic injection will be determined.
- Patient satisfaction [ Time Frame: 24-48 hours ] [ Designated as safety issue: No ]Patient satisfaction with reduction of pain and recovery of motor capability will be assessed in the 24-48 hour period following surgery.
|Study Start Date:||March 2012|
|Estimated Study Completion Date:||December 2013|
|Estimated Primary Completion Date:||July 2013 (Final data collection date for primary outcome measure)|
Experimental: Combined nerve block
Participants in this group will receive a supraclavicular brachial plexus block plus a median or ulnar nerve block.
Procedure: Combined nerve block
Combined supraclavicular brachial plexus block plus ulnar or median nerve block (depending on the location of surgery)
Active Comparator: Single nerve block
Participants in this group will receive a supraclavicular brachial plexus block only.
Procedure: Supraclavicular block
Standard supraclavicular brachial plexus block
Hide Detailed Description
Regional anesthesia is commonly employed for surgery on the hand. It is well tolerated by most patients and has a high safety record.
The most common form of regional anesthesia for this surgery is the supraclavicular block which is successful in most cases. Occasionally an additional nerve block and/or moderate sedation is required. The most frequent additional nerve blocks required are for the ulnar and median nerves.
This study aims to address whether a low volume supraclavicular block plus a selective ulnar or median nerve block reduces the time taken for onset of anesthesia, reduces the time of post-operative complete limb immobility, improves the surgical success of the block, and increases patient satisfaction, compared to a standard block.
The study will be powered to detect a 25% difference in successful surgical anesthesia.
To ascertain whether the addition of an ulnar or median nerve block to a lower volume supraclavicular block speeds up the onset and consistency of anesthesia, and the return of limb function in patients undergoing hand surgery when compared to a standard supraclavicular block.
Low volume supraclavicular block plus selective distal nerve blocks will speed up the onset of anesthesia, improve surgical anesthetic success and decrease the time to the return of upper limb function when compared to a standard supraclavicular block.
Patients over 18 years of age, listed for hand surgery in the ulnar or median distribution at the University of Alberta Hospital. The study will commence following ethical approval and will run until 160 patients are enrolled.
- Patient refusal
- Allergy to amide local anesthetics
- Severe coagulopathy
- Bilateral upper limb surgery
- Surgery involving bone graft from the iliac crest
- Request for general anesthetic from surgical or research team (for example, nerve stimulation studies)
Consent will be obtained by one of the investigators. Patients not wishing to participate in the study will receive either a brachial plexus block or a general anesthetic as deemed appropriate by the attending anesthesiologist.
Patients to undergo surgery on the ring or pinky fingers will be randomised to receive either a standard supraclavicular block, or a low volume supraclavicular block plus ulnar nerve block. Patients receiving surgery on the thumb, index, or middle fingers will be randomized in a similar fashion to a separate "median" group. All blocks will be placed in a designated block area prior to transfer to the operating room by either an experienced staff anesthesiologist or a supervised fellow in regional anesthesia. The block will be assessed prior to surgery for motor and sensory dysfunction, and the block may be augmented if necessary. The surgeon will determine the effectiveness of the surgical anesthesia, and will indicate a need for surgical local anesthetic top up, heavy sedation or general anesthesia to the anesthesiologist. Sedation can also be administered as per patient request.
Post-operatively, a patient satisfaction questionnaire will be completed. A phone call will be conducted the following day.
Primary outcome measures
1. Successful surgical anesthesia
Secondary outcome measures
- Time to successful anesthetic block
- Procedural time
- Duration of analgesia
- Duration of weakness
- Patient satisfaction
Ultrasound-guided supraclavicular blocks have been performed for many years, with a low complication rate. The addition of a peripheral nerve block is not uncommon, and poses minimal additional risk.
- Nerve damage
- Intravascular injection causing local anesthetic toxicity
- Block failure
- Transient hemidiaphragmatic paresis
- Transient Horner's syndrome
- Transient recurrent laryngeal nerve palsy
- Haematoma at injection site
Patients will be transferred to the block area. Midazolam will be titrated to an appropriate level. A time out procedure will be undertaken to ensure the correct side is being blocked. The skin will be disinfected. The ultrasound probe will scan the supraclavicular fossa to identify the subclavian artery. The brachial plexus is identified postero-lateral to the artery.
Standard supraclavicular block
The skin will be infiltrated with lidocaine. A needle attached to a nerve stimulator will be introduced. The target will be an area infero-medial to the brachial plexus. In this position 10 - 20 ml of a 3:1 Lidocaine 2%: 0.5% Bupivacaine solution is injected. A more superficial injection is then made. A further 10-20 mls of the Lidocaine:Bupivacaine solution is deposited. The total volume will be recorded with a maximum of 30mls.
Low volume supraclavicular block with ulnar nerve block
The skin infiltration and target of the needle is the same as for the standard supraclavicular block. However, a maximum of 15ml of the solution will be injected. The arm is then abducted and supinated. The ulnar artery is identified. The ulnar nerve is seen medial to the artery. 5ml of the solution is deposited adjacent to the nerve.
Low volume supraclavicular block with median nerve block
The skin infiltration and target of the needle is the same as for the standard supraclavicular block. However, a maximum of 15ml of the solution will be injected. The patient's elbow is flexed and the nerve is visualized on ultrasound in the antecubital fossa lying medial to the brachial artery. Anesthetic solution is deposited in the forearm to target the median nerve.
Following block assessment, the patient will be transferred to the operating theatre. Additional midazolam may be given. Propofol at 50mcg/kg/minute will be commenced if required, and the rate can be increased to 75mcg/kg/minute. If the patient is unable to tolerate the procedure, sedation can be increased to at least 100mcg/kg/minute and the block is deemed an unsuccessful surgical block.
Patients will be assessed for sensory and motor blockade of each nerve at 5 minute intervals.
A successful anesthetic block will be defined as a sensation score in the ulnar or median area of 0 or 1, and an ulnar or median motor score of 2 or less. If this does not occur in the standard group, an ulnar or median nerve block will be performed. If this does not occur in the combined group, a general anesthetic will occur.
Nerve block extent may also be assessed by objective means (e.g., strength testing with a dynamometer).
A successful surgical block will be defined as requiring no further LA top-up or infiltration, and sedation no greater than 75mcg/kg/min.
Data will be collected on a study sheet. Information will be kept confidential and there will be no patient identifiers on the form.
The data collected will be age, sex, height and weight, the type of block used, the amount of local anesthetic used, the length of time taken to perform all blocks, the block assessment data. Intraoperative data will note whether additional local anaesthetic, heavy sedation or general anesthesia was required and the reason. Post-operative data will be a patient questionnaire asking about block-related and surgery-related pain score. A follow up phone call the day after surgery will determine the timing of return of power and sensation of the arm.