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Distressing Upper Extremity Phantom Limb Sensation During Intravenous Regional Anesthesia
  1. Eric Dominguez, M.D.
  1. From the Department of Anesthesiology, Naval Medical Center, Portsmouth, Virginia.
  1. Reprint requests: Eric Dominguez, M.D., LCDR, MC, USNR, Department of Anesthesiology, Portsmouth Naval Medical Center, #620 John Paul Jones Circle, Portsmouth, VA 23708. E-mail:


Background and Objectives The objective of this article is to describe a case of distressing upper extremity phantom limb sensation during intravenous regional anesthesia (IVRA).

Case Report A 33-year-old American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) status I female with an uncomplicated intrauterine gestation presented for endoscopic carpal tunnel release. Following gravity-assisted exsanguination of the vertically positioned left upper extremity, she underwent an IVRA. Within minutes of her arm being repositioned for surgery she remarked that the arm felt as if it was still in the vertical position. This sensory disturbance was described as fatiguing and exhausting. Despite reassurance and medication with intravenous narcotics, her symptoms became intolerable. Her phantom sensation disappeared upon dissipation of the IVRA.

Conclusions There are no previous reports regarding the development of phantom phenomena during an IVRA. The occurrence of distressing phantom sensations during an otherwise adequate IVRA may be interpreted as block failure and may lead to conversion to general anesthesia. Practitioners are encouraged to consider these phenomena when performing IVRA.

  • Phantom limb pain
  • Phantom sensations
  • Intravenous regional anesthesia
  • IVRA

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