Ultrasonography-guided supraclavicular brachial plexus block has demonstrated safety as compared with landmark or nerve stimulation techniques. However, the minimum effective analgesic volume (MEAV) necessary for adequate blockade has not been determined. This study was undertaken to assess under fluoroscopy the postinjection spread of different drug volumes with clinical correlation. Secondary outcome measures included correlation of onset of block, block quality, and incidence of side effects.
This randomized, multiarm, cross-sectional, observational study was conducted at a single tertiary care center. A total of 549 patients were randomly allocated to 3 groups (20 ml, 30 ml, and 40 ml of drug mixture). A local anesthetic drug mixture with a radiopaque dye was administered under ultrasonographic guidance, and postinjection fluoroscopic drug spread was studied.
Surgical anesthesia was achieved in 494 (89.98%) patients with 85.25%, 92.97%, and 91.71% in 20-, 30-, and 40-ml groups, respectively, being significantly low (p = 0.0317) in the 20-mL group. Cephalad and infraclavicular spread was higher in the 40-mL group than in other two groups (p = 0.103). Horner syndrome (HS) was seen in 51.18% of patients. First, ipsilateral superficial cervical plexus block was also observed in 40.22% of patients. Among patients who developed both, ∼60% of patients (99/167) belonged to the 40-mL group.
Optimal MEAV appears between 20 and 30 mL. Higher drug volumes are associated with more cephalad spread and side effects. Drug spread can predict block efficacy as well. It is postulated that loss of sensation in the ipsilateral neck can be used to predict development of hemidiaphragmatic paresis similar to HS.