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Is There Any Need for Expanding the Perineural Space Before Catheter Placement in Continuous Femoral Nerve Blocks?
  1. Charles Pham Dang, M.D.,
  2. Jérôme Guilley, M.D.,
  3. Lyndia Dernis, M.D.,
  4. Cécile Langlois, M.D.,
  5. Chantal Lambert, M.D.,
  6. Jean-Michel Nguyên, M.D., Ph.D. and
  7. Michel Pinaud, M.D.
  1. Pôle Anesthésie-Réanimations, CHU Nantes, France Anesthésie-Réanimation Chirurgicale, CHD La Roche-sur-Yon, France Pôle d’Information Médicale, d’Evaluation et de Santé Publique (PIMESP), CHU Nantes, France
  1. Reprint requests: Charles Pham Dang, MD, Pôle Anesthésie-Réanimations, Hôtel-Dieu, F-44093 Nantes Cedex, France. E-mail: charles.phamdang{at}


Background and Objective: There is debate regarding the benefit of perineural space expansion before catheter placement in continuous femoral nerve block. This question is addressed in this prospective, comparative, and randomized study.

Methods: Sixty patients scheduled for total knee replacement were randomly assigned to receive continuous femoral nerve block with or without perineural space expansion using 10 mL dextrose 5% in water (D5W) flush before stimulation-guided catheter placement. Femoral block was initiated with a 5-mL bolus followed by an infusion of 5 mL/h ropivacaine 0.2% during the 2-hour surgery. The number of attempts before successful placement of the stimulating catheter and the resistance during its insertion were assessed. Patients also received obturator nerve blocks by using ropivacaine 0.75% (10 mL) and sciatic nerve blocks (20 mL). The number of boluses of ropivacaine 0.2% needed to achieve zero VAS scoring was recorded in the postanesthesia care unit during the 2-hour stay. Images of the contrast spread were also studied.

Results: There were 30 patients in each group. The number of successful catheter placements at the first attempt was higher with expansion than without (22 vs. 8, P = .007). The resistance felt during insertion was lower with than without expansion (P = .01). More boluses of ropivacaine were required postoperatively without expansion (P = .03). No difference between groups was found regarding the images of the contrast spread.

Conclusion: Expansion of the perineural space with D5W is useful for catheter placement in continuous femoral nerve block.

  • Continuous block
  • Femoral
  • Dextrose 5% in water
  • Stimulating catheter

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  • Presented in part at the 30th ASRA Spring Meeting, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, April 21-24, 2005.