Peripheral Nerve Injury in Anesthesia

Attention to detail in positioning and knowing the risk factors like diabetes, thyroid disease, alcohol, “Established peripheral neuropathy, pre-existing (but subclinical) peripheral neuropathy, profound hypothermia, hypovolaemia, hypotension, hypoxaemia, electrolyte disorders, malnutrition, small or large body mass index (BMI), tobacco use and anatomical variants (such as the presence of cervical ribs) may increase the susceptibility of peripheral nerves to peri-operative injury”.

The complexity of predisposing conditions, surgical injury and tourniquet use are explored in the ASRA practice advisory  ASRA advisory

Anesthesiology (Here) publishes guidelines Jan 2018 for the prevention of peripheral nerve injury. Avoid pressure on nerves with padding if needed, avoid excessive flexion or extension of any joint, and none of those pesky  shoulder brace thingies. And I’ve saved you a lot of reading!

Anaesthesia article (free)

Respiratory Risk Assessment

An excellent review of the pre-operative  risk factors for pulmonary complications or respiratory failure post-op.

Age, COPD, recent respiratory infection or pre-op symptoms, ASA Class >II, heart failure. Albumin < 3.5g/dl, smoking, alcohol, functional dependence, sepsis, hepatic and renal disease, anemia, recent weight loss >10%, cancer, impaired sensorium, low oxygen saturation, emergency surgery, thoracic/upper abdominal/ major vascular surgery, duration >2 hours.
Controlled asthma and obesity not major risks, OSA uncertain.

Clinics article

Spinal Cord Injury and Neuraxial Block

Vigilance over complacency in this area. Rare but catastrophic potential of spinal and epidural anesthesia. An article and the NAP3 data. Themes include greater risk in elderly, and epidurals and CSE vs spinal. Obstetric and pediatric risk appears lower. Some preventable incidents like wrong route delivery and hypotension

“Assessed ‘pessimistically’ the incidence of permanent injury after CNB was 4.2 per 100 000, and of paraplegia/death was 1.8 per 100 000. ‘Optimistically’ the incidence of permanent injury was 2.0 per 100 000 and of paraplegia/death 0.7 per 100 000. The incidence of complications of epidural and CSE were at least twice those of spinals and caudals.”

Anaesthesia article

NAP3 findings

Cardiac patient for non-cardiac surgery

A review of current guidelines for managing anesthesia for cardiac patients. Still 12 months of dual antiplatelet therapy with any stent after acute coronary syndromes but a little leeway otherwise – 1 month for bare metal stent and 6 months for drug eluting stents, possibly 3 months for more urgent surgery (but with PCI on site).

Longer durations of dual antiplatelet therapy may be appropriate in the non surgical setting based on individual patient cardiac vs bleeding risk.

We know now that just about all Troponin elevations worsen short and longer term outcome,  and in at-risk cardiac patients, many choose to monitor serial Troponins and EKG post-op as peri-operative MIs are often silent.

Anaesthesia review

Anesthesia Care Handover Risk

Not an issue if you’re on your own like me! But bigger centres involve change of anesthesia provider in mid-case and the risk is real even including mortality JAMA Article

The real issue as in so many situations may be inadequate communication. The case for a standard checklist for handover of care is strong, and will increasingly be electronic Anesthesia-Analgesia article

And the same also goes for post operative care units  APSF article


Top 2017 Critical Care Trials

If you’ve spent the entire year viewing CNN’s coverage of Trump, here’s a quick catch up of the year in Critical Care.

The main points:

Restrictive blood transfusion still rules. Fresh blood is no better. Antibiotics are time critical in sepsis.

No oxygen for MIs – unless hypoxic. Routine recruitment maneuvers in ARDS not indicated.

Acetylcysteine and bicarbonate for contrast angiography in high renal risk not helpful.

ICU routine admission for over 75 year old not always necessary.

Individual systolic BP targeting with Norepinephrine reduces organ dysfunction.

Angiotensin II may be next therapy for vasodilatory shock.

You’re welcome. Now back to CNN! Or read the summaries and links at

ICU Intubation

Unfamiliar environments, inadequate equipment and protocol deviation all contribute to a higher risk in airway management outside the OR.  The full range of support devices, like supraglottic  airways, videolaryngoscopy and cricothyrotomy devices must be available as in the OR. And dark X-ray departments are even scarier!

Of interest they note the use of nasal cannula oxygen under your pre-oxygenation mask increased to 15l/min during intubation attempts as shown effective in other recent studies. And the continuing debate on the effectiveness of cricoid pressure, releasing if it impedes the procedure

Guidelines BJA