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Sex-dependent prolongation of sciatic nerve blockade in diabetes patients: a prospective cohort study


Introduction Diabetes may affect the duration of nerve block after regional anesthesia. This study aimed to compare the durations of sensory and motor block in diabetes versus non-diabetes patients after lower limb nerve block and delineate any sex-based differences in the duration of sensory and motor blocks of both diabetes and non-diabetes patients.

Methods This prospective single-blinded cohort study recruited 86 patients who underwent unilateral lower extremity surgery; 52 patients were non-diabetic and 34 were diabetic. Each patient received an ultrasound-guided nerve stimulator-assisted subgluteal sciatic nerve block with 0.75% ropivacaine. Duration of sensory block was assessed with the Semmes-Weinstein monofilament test, and duration of motor block was assessed with dorsal and plantar flexion of the foot.

Results The sensory and motor block durations of diabetes patients were significantly prolonged versus non-diabetes patients (19.8±6.0 hours vs 15.6±5.1 hours; p<0.05) and (19.5±8.1 hours vs 14.8±5.7 hours, p=0.005), respectively. The durations of sensory and motor block were comparable between male diabetes and non-diabetes patients, but they were significantly longer in female diabetes patients. Multiple regression analysis further revealed that, after adjustment for age and preoperative sensory threshold, diabetes, fasting plasma glucose and HbA1c levels were significantly associated with sensory and motor blocks. Sex analysis showed the association was only present in female diabetes patients, not male diabetes patients.

Conclusion The durations of sensory and motor block are significantly prolonged after subgluteal sciatic nerve block in diabetes patients. Furthermore, the prolonged nerve blockade is present only in diabetes women, not diabetes men.

Trial registration number NCT02482831.

  • lower extremity
  • postoperative pain
  • interventional pain management
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