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Incidence and Effects of Unintentional Intraneural Injection During Ultrasound-Guided Subgluteal Sciatic Nerve Block
  1. Kaoru Hara, MD,
  2. Shinichi Sakura, MD,
  3. Naomi Yokokawa, MD and
  4. Saki Tadenuma, MD
  1. From the Department of Anesthesiology, Shimane University School of Medicine, Izumo City, Japan.
  1. Address correspondence to: Shinichi Sakura, MD, Department of Anesthesiology, Shimane University School of Medicine, 89-1, Enya-cho, Izumo City, 693-8501 Japan (e-mail: ssakura{at}


Background The present study was conducted to determine the incidence of unintentional intraneural injection during ultrasound-guided subgluteal sciatic nerve block using a low-frequency transducer. We also observed the effects of intraneural injection using ropivacaine and mepivacaine.

Methods Enrolled in the study were 325 patients undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery, who each received a subgluteal sciatic nerve block under ultrasound guidance using 1.5% mepivacaine with 1:400,000 epinephrine or 0.5% ropivacaine. A block needle was inserted in-plane with the ultrasound transducer (5-2 MHz curved array) and advanced slowly under real-time ultrasound guidance until it was positioned immediately adjacent to the nerve. Twenty milliliters of either anesthetic was then injected to produce a circumferential spread. An ultrasound video was recorded and used to examine whether the local anesthetic was injected intraneurally. Sensory and motor blockade was evaluated for 30 mins after completion of the block. Duration of the block and any neurologic complications were also examined.

Results Intraneural injection was detected in 46 patients (16.3%; 95% confidence interval, 12.3%–20.3%). Onset of sensory and motor blockade was significantly faster in patients with intraneural injection than those without either mepivacaine or ropivacaine. Duration of sensory blockade was similar between patients with and without intraneural injection. No patient developed postoperative neurologic complications.

Conclusions Unintentional intraneural injection occurred at an incidence rate of 16.3% for the ultrasound-guided subgluteal approach to the sciatic nerve. Intraneural injection of mepivacaine or ropivacaine hastened the onset of blockade but did not affect block duration, and it did not result in clinical neural injury in our small sample of patients.

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  • The authors declare no conflict of interest.

  • Funding was provided solely from departmental and institutional sources.