Femoral nerve block (FNB) is a routinely used regional analgesic technique for anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction. One method to balance the analgesic effect and functional impairment of FNBs may be to control the concentration of local anesthetics utilized for the block.
Materials and methods
Retrospective chart review was performed on 390 consecutive patients who underwent ACL reconstruction between June 2014 and May 2017. Patients were divided into those who received a standard (0.5%-bupivacaine) or low (0.1–0.125%-bupivacaine) concentration single-shot FNB performed with ultrasound guidance. Maximum postoperative VAS, Post-Anaesthesia Care Unit (PACU) time prior to discharge, need for additional ‘rescue’ block, and intravenous postoperative narcotic requirements were recorded.
A total of 268 patients (28.4 ± 11.9 years) were included for final analysis, with 72 patients in the low-concentration FNB group and 196 patients receiving the standard concentration. There were no differences in the maximum postoperative VAS between the low (6.4 ± 2.5) and standard (5.7 ± 2.9) concentration groups (P = 0.08). Similarly, the time from PACU arrival to discharge was not different between groups (P = 0.64). A sciatic rescue block was needed in 22% of patients with standard-dose FNB compared to 30% of patients receiving the low-concentration FNB (P = 0.20). Patients with a hamstring autograft harvest were more likely to undergo a postoperative sciatic rescue block compared to a bone-patellar tendon autograft (P = 0.005), regardless of preoperative block concentration. Quadriceps activation was preserved with low-concentration blocks.
Using 1/5th to 1/4th the standard local anesthetic concentration for preoperative femoral nerve block in ACL reconstruction did not significantly differ in peri-operative outcomes, PACU time, need for rescue blockade, or additional immediate opioid requirements.
Level of Evidence