Background and Objectives Patients undergoing major elective ankle surgery often experience pain from the saphenous nerve territory persisting beyond the duration of a single-injection saphenous nerve block. We hypothesized that perineural dexamethasone as an adjuvant for the saphenous nerve block prolongs the duration of analgesia and postpones as well as reduces opioid-requiring pain.
Methods Forty patients were included in this prospective, randomized, controlled study. All patients received a continuous sciatic catheter and were randomized to receive a single-injection saphenous nerve block with 10 mL of 0.5% bupivacaine with 1:200,000 epinephrine with addition of 1 mL of saline or 1 mL of 0.4% (ie, 4 mg) dexamethasone. The primary outcome was duration of saphenous nerve block estimated as the time until the first opioid request. Secondary outcomes were opioid consumption and pain.
Results The mean (SD) duration of the saphenous nerve block until first opioid request was 29.4 (8.4) hours in the dexamethasone group and 23.2 (10.3) hours in the control group (P = 0.048). The median opioid consumption [interquartile range] during the first 24 hours was 0 mg [0–0] versus 1.5 mg [0–14.2] in the dexamethasone and control groups, respectively. Nonparametric comparison of opioid consumption from 0 to 24 hours was statistically significant. The opioid consumption was similar in the two groups in the time interval 24 to 48 postoperative hours.
Conclusion Perineural dexamethasone as an adjuvant for the single-injection subsartorial saphenous nerve block can prolong analgesia and reduce opioid-requiring pain after major ankle surgery.
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The authors declare no conflict of interest.
Funding was received from the Faculty of Health, Aarhus University; Grocer L.F. Foght Foundation; Edgar Schnohr and Gilberte Schnohr Foundation; and A.P. Møller and Chastine Mc-Kinney Møller Foundation. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors.
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