Background and objective: A new posterior approach to the sciatic nerve in the subgluteal region was developed. We describe our clinical experiences on 135 consecutive patients.
Methods: All blocks were performed with a nerve stimulator (stimulation frequency 2 Hz; intensity from 1 reduced to ≤0.5 mA before application). A line was drawn from the greater trochanter to the ischial tuberosity of the femur; then, from the mid-point of this line, a second line was drawn perpendicularly and extended caudally for 4 cm: the end of this line represented the entry point of the needle. Sciatic stimulation was elicited at ≤0.5 mA; then ropivacaine 0.75% 20 mL was injected. An independent observer recorded the time from needle insertion to successful sciatic nerve stimulation (performance time), the depth of appropriate sciatic stimulation and the number of needle redirections, as well as the quality of nerve block, the discomfort during the procedure and patient acceptance.
Results: The performance time was 41 ± 25 s (mean ± SD) and the mean (SD) depth at which the sciatic nerve stimulation was found was 45 ± 10 mm. The median (range) number of needle redirections required to find the proper sciatic stimulation was 2 (1–5). The tibial response was observed in 77 patients (57%), while the common peroneal response was observed in 58 patients (43%). The degree of discomfort reported was very low and only 16 patients (12%) reported severe pain during placement of the block. The onset time (mean ± SD) of sensory and motor block was 7 ± 4 and 17 ± 13 min respectively, and the surgical procedure was completed with only the peripheral nerve block in 127 patients (94%). The same anaesthesia procedure was acceptable by 127 patients (94%) and only eight patients (6%) would prefer a different anaesthesia technique in the future.
Conclusions: The study demonstrated that the sciatic nerve can be easily blocked using this new posterior subgluteal approach, suggesting that it represents a safe and effective alternative to block the sciatic nerve at a proximal level, with the potential for reducing the discomfort experienced by the patient during block placement.