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The Incidence of Transient Radicular Irritation After Spinal Anesthesia in Obstetric Patients
  1. Cynthia A. Wong, M.D. and
  2. Paul Slavenas, M.D.
  1. From the Department of Anesthesiology, Northwestern University Medical School, Chicago, Illinois.
  1. Reprint requests: Cynthia A. Wong, M.D., Department of Anesthesiology, Northwestern University Medical School, 303 E. Superior St., Room 360, Chicago, IL 60611.


Background and Objectives Transient radicular irritation (TRI) has been described after spinal anesthesia, particularly with 5% hyperbaric spinal lidocaine. The purpose of this study was to determine the incidence of TRI in obstetric patients.

Methods All obstetric patients undergoing spinal anesthesia during a 9-month period were enrolled in the study (n = 303). Details of the anesthetic technique were recorded at the time of anesthesia. A blinded anesthesia nurse contacted each patient on post-operative day 2 and asked about symptoms of TRI.

Results Most patients received either intrathecal hyperbaric bupivacaine 0.75% (n = 232) or lidocaine 5% (n = 67) through pencil-point needles. Cerebrospinal fluid was used to dilute the spinal lidocaine in 63% of patients. Patients receiving bupivacaine were more often in the supine position, underwent significantly longer procedures, and more often received intrathecal opioid. The incidence of TRI after lidocaine spinal anesthesia was 0% (95% confidence interval 0–4.5%).

Conclusions The incidence of TRI after spinal lidocaine anesthesia in the obstetric population is low. Reg Anesth Pain Med 1999: 24: 55–58.

  • transient radicular irritation
  • spinal anesthesia
  • lidocaine.

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