Management of the patient with diabetic peripheral neuropathy presenting for peripheral regional anesthesia: a European survey and review of literature

P. Lirk, M. V. H. Rutten, I. Haller, M. F. Stevens, J. Laudolff-Birmingham, M. Hollmann, B. Birmingham

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Diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN) is a frequent complication of longstanding diabetes mellitus. There is no evidence-based consensus whether neuropathic patients undergoing peripheral regional anesthesia are at increased risk of neurologic damage. It is unknown whether these controversial results have been incorporated into clinical practice. We conducted a survey to test the hypothesis that the majority of respondents would consider DPN a potential risk factor for nerve damage in regional anesthesia, and would adapt their technique when performing regional anesthesia. In parallel, we sought to summarize the current knowledge-base regarding regional anesthesia and DPN. We therefore performed 1) a literature search to review current literature and 2) an online computer-based survey among members of the European Society of Regional Anesthesia and Pain Therapy (ESRA). The overall response rate was 19% (584 responders/3107 invitations). About a quarter of participants would avoid regional anesthesia in patients with diabetic neuropathy, and 59% of respondents would counsel patients with diabetic neuropathy about increased risk of regional anesthesia. When techniques were modified, most participants would decrease or omit epinephrine, while fewer respondents would decrease dose of local anesthetic or perform other adjustments. More than 80% agreed with the statement that nerve blocks could be performed safely in diabetic neuropathic patients. In conclusion, we report the results of the first survey analyzing attitudes and standards of care among European anesthesiologists with regards to regional anesthesia in DPN. While literature is divided on the question whether pre-existing diabetic neuropathy is a risk factor for new neurological deficit after regional anesthesia, most of the responders of this survey take measures to reduce risks, counsel patients on a possible greater risk of neurologic complications, but only a minority of responders would avoid peripheral regional anesthesia altogether
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1039-1048
JournalMinerva anestesiologica
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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