Assessment of main complications of regional anesthesia recorded in an acute pain unit in a tertiary care university hospital: a retrospective cohort
Regional anesthesia has been increasingly used. Despite its low number of complications, they are associated with relevant morbidity. This study aims to evaluate the incidence of complications after neuraxial block and peripheral nerve block.
A retrospective cohort study was conducted, and data related to patients submitted to neuraxial block and peripheral nerve block at a tertiary university hospital from January 1, 2011 to December 31, 2017 were analyzed.
From 10,838 patients referred to Acute Pain Unit, 1093(10.1%) had side effects or complications: 1039 (11.4%) submitted to neuraxial block and 54 (5.2%) to peripheral nerve block. The most common side effects after neuraxial block were sensory (48.5%) or motor deficits (11.8%), nausea or vomiting (17.5%) and pruritus (8.0%); The most common complications: 3 (0.03%) subcutaneous cell tissue hematoma, 3 (0.03%) epidural abscesses and 1 (0.01%) arachnoiditis. 204 of these patients presented sensory or motor deficits at hospital discharge and needed follow-up. Permanent peripheral nerve injury after neuraxial block had an incidence of 7.7:10,000 (0.08%). The most common side effects after peripheral nerve block were sensory deficits (52%) and 21 patients maintained follow-up due to symptoms persistence after hospital discharge.
Although we found similar incidences of side effects or even lower than those described, major complications after neuraxial block had a higher incidence, particularly epidural abscesses. Despite this, other serious complications, such as spinal hematoma and permanent peripheral nerve injury, are still rare.