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Preliminary Evaluation of Infraclavicular Catheters Inserted Using Ultrasound Guidance: Through-the-Catheter Anesthesia Is Not Inferior to Through-the-Needle Blocks
  1. Marie-Eve Slater, M.D.,
  2. Stephan R. Williams, M.D., Ph.D.,
  3. Patrick Harris, M.D., F.R.C.S.C.,
  4. Jean-Paul Brutus, M.D., F.R.C.C.P.B.,
  5. Monique Ruel, R.N., C.C.R.P.,
  6. François Girard, M.D., F.R.C.P.C. and
  7. Daniel Boudreault, M.D., F.R.C.P.C.
  1. Department of Anesthesiology, Centre hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal, Hôpital Notre-Dame, Montréal, Canada
  2. Department of Surgery, Centre hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal, Hôpital Notre-Dame, Montréal, Canada.
  1. Reprint requests: Stephan Williams, M.D., Ph.D., Department of Anesthesiology, Centre hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal, Hôpital Notre-Dame, 1560 Sherbrooke East, Montreal, Canada, H2L 4M1. E-mail: stephan.williams{at}


Background and Objectives: This prospective study compared the initial block quality and surgical anesthesia rates of ultrasound-guided infraclavicular blocks with local-anesthetic injected through a catheter versus through a needle. We hypothesized that positioning of the catheter immediately posterior to the axillary artery would produce through-the-catheter (TTC) anesthesia with rates of complete block not inferior to through-the-needle (TTN) injection.

Methods: Eighty patients undergoing hand or forearm surgery extensive enough to require regional anesthesia were randomized into 2 groups of 40. In group TTN, local anesthetic was deposited posterior, lateral, and medial to the axillary artery using as few injections as necessary. In group TTC, a 20-gauge, multiorifice catheter was positioned between the posterior wall of the axillary artery and the posterior cord of the brachial plexus. All blocks were performed by use of ultrasound visualization with a 6-MHz to 10-MHz 38-mm linear probe. Local-anesthetic solution consisted of 0.5 mL/kg lidocaine 2% with epinephrine. Sensory and motor blocks, as well as supplementation rates, were evaluated for the musculocutaneous, median, radial, and ulnar nerves.

Results: Complete sensory block of all nerve territories was achieved in 92% of patients in group TTN and 90% in group TTC (P = .51). In group TTN, 90% of patients had satisfactory anesthesia for surgery (no discomfort and no need for anesthetic supplementation of any type) compared with 92% in group TTC (P = .51).

Conclusion: Ultrasound-guided TTC infraclavicular block produced perioperative anesthesia that was not inferior to a TTN technique.

  • Ultrasound
  • Infraclavicular brachial plexus
  • Peripheral nerve catheter
  • Regional anesthesia

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