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Single- versus double-injection costoclavicular block: a randomized comparison


Background The costoclavicular approach targets the brachial plexus in the proximal infraclavicular fossa, where the lateral, medial, and posterior cords are tightly bundled together. This randomized trial compared single- and double-injection ultrasound-guided costoclavicular blocks. We selected onset time as the primary outcome and hypothesized that, compared with its single-injection counterpart, the double-injection technique would result in a swifter onset.

Methods Ninety patients undergoing upper limb surgery (at or below the elbow joint) were randomly allocated to receive a single- (n=45) or double-injection (n=45) ultrasound-guided costoclavicular block. The local anesthetic agent (35 mL of lidocaine 1%-bupivacaine 0.25%with epinephrine 5 µg/mL and 2 mg of preservative-free dexamethasone) was identical in all subjects. In the single-injection group, the entire volume of local anesthetic was injected between the three cords of the brachial plexus. In the double-injection group, the first half of the volume was administered in this location; the second half was deposited between the medial cord and the subclavian artery. After the performance of the block, a blinded observer recorded the onset time (defined as the time required to achieve a minimal sensorimotor composite score of 14 out of 16 points), success rate (surgical anesthesia) and block-related pain scores. Performance time and the number of needle passes were also recorded during the performance of the block. The total anesthesia-related time was defined as the sum of the performance and onset times.

Results Compared with its single-injection counterpart, the double-injection technique displayed shorter onset time (16.6 (6.4) vs 23.4 (6.9) min; p<0.001; 95% CI for difference 3.9 to 9.7) and total anesthesia-related time (22.5 (6.7) vs 28.9 (7.6) min; p<0.001). No intergroup differences were found in terms of success and technical execution (ie, performance time/procedural pain). The double-injection group required more needle passes than the single-injection group (2 (1–4) vs 1 (1–3); p<0.001).

Conclusion Compared with its single-injection counterpart, double-injection costoclavicular block results in shorter onset and total anesthesia-related times. Further investigation is required to determine if a triple-injection technique (with targeted local anesthetic injection around each cord of the brachial plexus) could further decrease the onset time.

Trial registration number NCT03595514.

  • brachial plexus
  • upper extremity
  • regional anesthesia

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