Intrathecal Spread of Injectate Following an Ultrasound-Guided Selective C5 Nerve Root Injection in a Human Cadaver Model.


Journal Article

Ultrasound-guided selective C5 nerve root blocks have been described in several case reports as a safe and effective means to anesthetize the distal clavicle while maintaining innervation of the upper extremity and preserving diaphragmatic function. In this study, cadavers were injected with 5 mL of 0.5% methylene blue dye under ultrasound guidance to investigate possible proximal and distal spread of injectate along the brachial plexus, if any. Following the injections, the specimens were dissected and examined to determine the distribution of dye and the structures affected. One injection revealed dye extended proximally into the epidural space, which penetrated the dura mater and was present on the spinal cord and brainstem. Dye was noted distally to the divisions in 3 injections. The anterior scalene muscle and phrenic nerve were stained in all 4 injections. It appears unlikely that local anesthetic spread is limited to the nerve root following an ultrasound-guided selective C5 nerve root injection. Under certain conditions, intrathecal spread also appears possible, which has major patient safety implications. Additional safety measures, such as injection pressure monitoring, should be incorporated into this block, or approaches that are more distal should be considered for the acute pain management of distal clavicle fractures.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Falyar, CR; Abercrombie, C; Becker, R; Biddle, C

Published Date

  • April 2016

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 84 / 2

Start / End Page

  • 80 - 84

PubMed ID

  • 27311148

Pubmed Central ID

  • 27311148

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 2162-5239

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0094-6354


  • eng