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Risk Factors for and Prediction of a Difficult Neuraxial Block: A Cohort Study of 73,579 Patients from the Danish Anaesthesia Database
  1. Line Stendell, MD*,
  2. Lars H. Lundstrøm, MD, PhD*,
  3. Jørn Wetterslev, MD, PhD,
  4. Theis S. Itenov, MD* and
  5. Charlotte V. Rosenstock, MD, PhD*
  1. From the *Department of Anaesthesiology and Intensive Care, Nordsjællands Hospital, Hillerød, and †Copenhagen Trial Unit, Centre for Clinical Intervention Research, Copenhagen University Hospital, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen, Denmark
  1. Address correspondence to: Line Stendell, MD, Department of Anaesthesiology and Intensive Care, Nordsjællands Hospital, Copenhagen University, Dyrehavevej 29, DK-3400 Hillerød, Hillerød, Denmark (e-mail: linestendell{at}


Background A difficult neuraxial block (DNB) may be associated with complications. The aims of this study were to estimate the prevalence of DNB, assess patient-related and organizational factors associated with DNB, and evaluate the diagnostic accuracy of an accumulated risk score for predicting DNB.

Methods A consecutive cohort of 73,579 patients was retrieved. A predefined DNB score and information on patient-related and organizational factors were included in the analyses. Logistic regression analysis was performed. We evaluated the diagnostic accuracy of an accumulated weighted point score of the patient-related risk factors of DNB.

Results The prevalence of DNB and abandoned neuraxial block was 3.9 (95% confidence interval [95% CI], 3.7–4.0) and 0.2 (95% CI, 0.16–0.22), respectively. Body mass index of 35 or higher and previous DNB were associated with DNB, with 3.23 (95% CI, 2.87–3.65) and 2.00 (95% CI, 1.33–3.00), respectively. However, the remaining patient-related covariates were associated with DNB with substantial lower odds ratios. The diagnostic accuracy of an accumulated sum score demonstrated an area under the curve of 0.62 (95% CI, 0.61–0.64), a positive predictive value of 5%, and a positive likelihood ratio of 1.4.

Conclusions Despite of strong statistical association between DNB and the tested risk factors, the low odds ratios and estimates of the diagnostic test indicate that the clinical impact using an accumulated risk sum score is limited.

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  • The authors declare no conflict of interest.

    The study is affiliated to the Department of Anesthesiology and Intensive Care, Nordsjællands Hospital, Hillerød, Copenhagen University, Capital Region of Denmark.

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