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Epidural Spread After Continuous Cervical Paravertebral Block: A Case Report
  1. Robert M. Frohm, M.D.,
  2. Robert M. Raw, M.B.Ch.B., F.C.A.(S.A.),
  3. Naeem Haider, M.D. and
  4. André P. Boezaart, M.B.Ch.B., F.F.A.(C.M.S.A.), M.Med.(Anesth.), Ph.D.*
  1. Regional Anesthesia Study Center of Iowa, Department of Anesthesia, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA
  1. Reprint requests: André P Boezaart, M.B.Ch.B., F.F.A.(C.M.S.A.), Department of Anesthesia, University of Iowa, 200 Hawkins Drive, 6-JCP, Iowa City, IA, 52242. E-mail: andre-boezaart{at}


Background and Objective: This report illustrates epidural spread after continuous cervical paravertebral block (CCPVB). By fluoroscopy, it also explains the mechanism of the complication.

Case Report: A healthy 22-year-old male developed bilateral upper-extremity motor weakness immediately after placement of a continuous cervical paravertebral block for postoperative pain control after shoulder stabilization surgery. The tip of the stimulating catheter was demonstrated in the C7 neuroforamen. Contrast injected through the catheter demonstrated epidural spread. The contralateral block resolved after 4 hours and the patient suffered no respiratory embarrassment or other untoward sequelae.

Conclusion: Continuous cervical paravertebral block is a relatively new, but generally well-accepted, modality for postoperative pain control after major surgery to the upper limb. Epidural spread is recognized as a complication. In this particular case, medial placement of the catheter was possibly caused by unintentional medial direction of the bevel of the Tuohy needle. Meticulous attention to the direction of the needle bevel and early recognition and management of adverse events are mandatory. The same principles may apply for continuous thoracic, lumbar, and sacral paravertebral blocks.

  • Continuous cervical paravertebral block
  • Paravertebral block
  • Complications
  • Regional anesthesia
  • Epidural spread
  • Epidural catheter

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