Ultrasound-guided approach to nerves (direct vs. tangential) and the incidence of intraneural injection: a cadaveric study
SourceAnaesthesia, 72, 4, (2017), pp. 461-469
Article / Letter to editor
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SubjectRadboudumc 18: Healthcare improvement science RIHS: Radboud Institute for Health Sciences
This study evaluated the incidence of nerve puncture and intraneural injection based on the needle approach to the nerve (direct vs. tangential). Two expert operators in regional anaesthesia performed in-plane ultrasound-guided nerve blocks (n = 158) at different levels of the brachial plexus in cadavers, aiming either directly for the nerve (n = 77) or tangentially inferior to the nerve (n = 81). After reaching the outer limit of the nerve, the needle was intentionally advanced approximately 1 mm in both approaches, and 0.2-0.5 ml of saline was injected. Each operator classified (in real time) the needle tip and injectate as intraneural or not. Video clips showing the final position of the needle and the injection were evaluated in the same manner by seven independent expert observers who were blinded to the aims of this study. In addition, 20 injections were performed with ink for histological evaluation. Intraneural injections of saline were observed by the operator in 58% (45/77) of cases using the direct approach and 12% (10/81) of cases using the tangential approach (p < 0.001). The independent observers agreed with the operator in a substantial number of cases (Cohen's kappa index 0.65). Histological studies showed intraneural spread in 83% (5/6) of cases using the direct approach and in 14% (2/14) of cases using the tangential approach (p = 0.007). No intrafascicular injections were observed. There was good agreement between the operators' assessment and subsequent histological evaluation (Cohen's kappa = 0.89). Simulation of an unintentional/accidental advancement of the needle 'beyond the edge' of the nerve suggests significantly increased risk of epineural perforation and intraneural injection when a direct approach to the nerve is used, compared with a tangential approach.
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