Comparison of Outcomes of Intravenous Dexamethasone Versus Placebo as Adjunct to Local Anaesthetic Brachial Plexus Block for Upper Limb Surgery

  • Naila Mughal Medicare Hospital
  • Ammar Shah Rawalpindi Medical University, Rawalpindi
  • Sana Latif College of Physicians & Surgeons of Pakistan, Karachi
  • Umer Naseem Social Security Hospital, Gujrat
  • Farah Naz Al Suffah Hospital, Rawalpindi.
  • M. Nazir Awan Ripha University, Islamic International Medical University, Islamabad
Keywords: brachial plexus block, intravenous dexamethasone


Introduction: Dexamethasone has been tested in combination with different local anesthetics with varying degree of results including increase in intensity and duration of block.

Objectives: To compare the outcomes of intravenous dexamethasone versus placebo as adjunct to local anesthetic brachial plexus block for upper limb surgery.

Study design: Randomized controlled trial

Setting: Department of Anesthesia, pain management and intensive care Holy Family Hospital, Rawalpindi.

Study duration: 7th November 2019 till 6th May 2020.

Materials & Methods: A total of 10 0 patients of either gender aged 18 to 60 years admitted for upper limb surgery were included. Patients with pregnancy, DM, block failure and contraindication to brachial plexus block were excluded. Patients in group A received a block injection with 30ml of 0.5% bupivacaine along with 2ml of intravenous dexamethasone. Group B patients received 30ml of 0.5% bupivacaine for block injection and 2ml of normal saline intravenously. Block success was confirmed using the sensory and motor examination of the upper limb. Block duration was recorded in hours, opioid consumption was recorded in intravenous morphine equivalents in first 24 hours, visual analogue scores for pain on scale of 0-10 at upper limb at rest was recorded at 8 and 24 hours.

Results: In our study, duration of local anesthetic brachial plexus block in dexamethasone and placebo group were 16.12 ± 1.33 hrs and 9.77 ± 1.26 hrs respectively with p-value = 0.0001. Opioid consumption in Morphine Equivalents  at 24 hrs in local anesthetic brachial plexus block and placebo group were 16.48 ± 2.60 vs 22.68 ± 3.78 with p-value < 0.0001 respectively.

Conclusion: This study concluded that intravenous dexamethasone has better outcomes as compared to intravenous saline as adjunct to local anesthetic brachial plexus block for upper limb surgery.

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