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Perceptions of Side Effects Following Axillary Block Used for Outpatient Surgery
  1. Kent Cooper, M.D.,
  2. Helen Kelley, M.N. and
  3. Joe Carrithers, Ph.D.
  1. Department of Anesthesiology, University of Kansas School of Medicine—Wichita, Wichita, Kansas
  1. Reprint requests: Kent Cooper, M.D., Department of Anesthesiology, University of Kansas School of Medicine— Wichita, Wichita, KS 67214.


Background and Objectives. The study evaluated patient perceptions of side effects related to axillary block (AB) and how they might influence a patient's decisions about subsequent ABs.

Methods. A questionnaire concerning the occurrence and duration of side effects following AB and patient preference for a subsequent AB was completed and returned by each of 1,149 patients. All ABs were performed using a 22 gauge short bevel needle. In all 86.5% had orthopedic surgery, with the remainder vascular access procedures. Three AB techniques and two anesthetic solutions were used.

Results. Patient-reported incidences of side effects were bruising, 19.1%; soreness, 39.7%; persistent numbness, 11.0%; and nausea, 10.8%. Bruising was reported more frequently by female patients, those undergoing orthopedic procedures, and those between 20 and 30 and over 80 years of age. Soreness was reported more frequently in orthopedic procedures and by those aged 20 to 30. Technique used did not affect the incidence of side effects or patient willingness to have a repeat AB. Ninety-three percent expressed willingness to have another AB; this was affected by whether the patient experienced a side effect, the duration of the side effect, and by the number of side effects experienced. Those between the ages of 20 and 40 were less willing to have another AB.

Conclusions. Even though 51% of the patients reported at least one side effect, 93% would choose to have another AB, indicating a high overall satisfaction with AB anesthesia, which significantly decreased as the number and duration of side effects increased.

  • axillary block
  • side effects
  • survey
  • patient perceptions

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