Pathophysiology and Etiology of Nerve Injury Following Peripheral Nerve Blockade

Richard Brull, Admir Hadzic, Miguel A. Reina, Michael J. Barrington

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

103 Scopus citations


This review synthesizes anatomical, anesthetic, surgical, and patient factors that may contribute to neurologic complications associated with peripheral nerve blockade. Peripheral nerves have anatomical features unique to a given location that may influence risk of injury. Peripheral nerve blockade-related peripheral nerve injury (PNI) is most severe with intrafascicular injection. Surgery and its associated requirements such as positioning and tourniquet have specific risks. Patients with preexisting neuropathy may be at an increased risk of postoperative neurologic dysfunction. Distinguishing potential causes of PNI require clinical assessment and investigation; a definitive diagnosis, however, is not always possible. Fortunately, most postoperative neurologic dysfunction appears to resolve with time, and the incidence of serious long-term nerve injury directly attributable to peripheral nerve blockade is relatively uncommon. Nonetheless, despite the use of ultrasound guidance, the risk of block-related PNI remains unchanged. What's New: Since the 2008 Practice Advisory, new information has been published, furthering our understanding of the microanatomy of peripheral nerves, mechanisms of peripheral nerve injection injury, toxicity of local anesthetics, the etiology of and monitoring methods, and technologies that may decrease the risk of nerve block-related peripheral nerve injury.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)479-490
Number of pages12
JournalRegional anesthesia and pain medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 3 2015
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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