Factors affecting the spread of bupivacaine in the paravertebral space were investigated in patients undergoing paravertebral nerve blocks for the treatment of chronically painful conditions. Injections of bupivacaine 0.5%, 10-15 ml mixed with depomedrone up to 80 mg were repeated at 2-wk intervals up to a maximum of four times. A blinded observer mapped out the subsequent distribution of sensory loss to cold on both sides of the torso at 5-min intervals after each injection. Age, sex, height and weight did not correlate with the block; nor did injectate volume, mass of bupivacaine, previous posterolateral thoractomy and spread of radiocontrast. Injections repeated at 2-wk intervals in the same patient resulted in different degrees of spread that were unrelated to one another. Time to peak onset of blockade was 40 min in 95% of patients. A single bolus of bupivacaine produces a safe but unpredictable block. Yet to be defined physical properties and anatomical factors are probably key determinants of the spread of bupivacaine in the paravertebral space. This single bolus technique may be better supplanted by a reversion to the older multiple level injection technique.
|Publication status||Published - 2003|