Background and Objectives: Several case reports have suggested that block of the brachial plexus by the vertical infraclavicular approach influences hemidiaphragmatic movement and ventilatory function. These effects have not been evaluated in a prospective study. Methods: Thirty-five consecutive patients scheduled for elective surgery under brachial plexus anesthesia were included. A vertical infraclavicular block was performed with ropivacaine 0.75%, 0.5 mL/kg. Ipsilateral hemidiaphragmatic movement was measured by ultrasonography at maximal forced inspiration and sniff. Forced vital capacity (FVC) and forced expiratory volume (FEV1) were measured by a portable vitalograph. All measurements were performed before the block procedure and at 5, 10, 30, and 60 minutes after the block. Results: The block was successful in 34 of 35 patients. In 9 patients (26%), a change in hemidiaphragmatic movement (reduced or paradoxical) was observed. A significant decrease in ventilatory function was found in 8 of these 9 patients between baseline and at 60 minutes: FVC = -0.8 ± 0.4 L and FEV1 = -0.7 ± 0.3 L, mean ± SD (relative decrease: FVC = 30 ± 14% and FEV1 = 32 ± 13%, mean ± SD). Horner's syndrome was seen in 4 patients (12%), and in all, a change in hemidiaphragmatic movement was observed. No clinical signs of ventilatory dysfunction were noticed. Conclusion: The vertical infraclavicular block can result in a change in ipsilateral hemidiaphragmatic movement, with a decrease of ventilatory function. Although a correlation between the presence of Horner's syndrome and hemidiaphragmatic dysfunction was observed, hemidiaphragmatic dysfunction also occurred independently.

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Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine
Department of Anesthesiology

Rettig, H.C, Gielen, M.J.M, Boersma, H, Klein, J, & Groen, G.J. (2005). Vertical infraclavicular block of the brachial plexus: Effects on hemidiaphragmatic movement and ventilatory function. Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine, 30(6), 529–535. doi:10.1016/j.rapm.2005.08.001