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Year : 2021  |  Volume : 65  |  Issue : 6  |  Page : 445-450

Can saline injection protect phrenic nerve? – A randomised controlled study

1 Department of Anaesthesia and Intensive Care, Tallaght University Hospital, Dublin, Ireland
2 Department of Radiology, Tallaght University Hospital, Dublin, Ireland

Correspondence Address:
Karthikeyan Kallidaikurchi Srinivasan
Department of Anaesthesia and Intensive Care, Tallaght University Hospital, Tallaght, Dublin
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ija.IJA_182_21

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Background and Aims: Various methods were attempted to reduce the incidence of phrenic nerve palsy during interscalene brachial plexus nerve block. Mechanism of phrenic palsy was presumed to be due to the spread of local anaesthetic anterior to the anterior scalene muscle. We hypothesised that by injecting saline in this anatomical location prior to performing an interscalene block might reduce the incidence of phrenic palsy. Methods: This was a double-blinded randomised controlled study performed in a single-centre, university-teaching hospital. A total of 36 patients were randomised to either group C (conventional group) or group S (saline group). Ultrasound-guided interscalene block was administered with 20 ml of 0.25% levo-bupivacaine in both groups. Ten ml of normal saline was injected anterior to anterior scalene muscle in group S prior to performing interscalene block. A blinded radiologist performed diaphragmatic ultrasound pre- and post-operatively to document phrenic palsy. Bedside spirometry was used to perform baseline and post-operative pulmonary function test. The primary outcome was to look at the incidence of phrenic palsy as measured by diaphragmatic palsy on ultrasound performed by radiologist. Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) version 25 was used for statistical analysis. Results: Significantly less patients in the saline group developed diaphragmatic paresis when compared to conventional group (44% vs. 94%, Chi-squared = 10.01, P = 0.002). There was no difference in post-operative pain, subjective sensation of dyspnoea or patient satisfaction between the groups. Conclusion: Injecting saline anterior to anterior scalene muscle reduces the incidence of diaphragmatic palsy when performing interscalene block.

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