Intravenous Regional Anesthesia Using a Forearm Tourniquet: A Safe and Effective Technique for Outpatient Hand Procedures

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Background: Bier block provides anesthesia of an entire extremity distal to the tourniquet without necessitating direct injection at the surgical site. This avoids obscuring anatomy with local anesthetic and anesthetizes a wide area, allowing for multiple procedures and incisions. We hypothesize that a low-volume Bier block with forearm tourniquet, rather than a traditional brachial tourniquet, is a safe, well-tolerated, and effective anesthesia technique. Methods: All cases in which adult patients underwent hand procedures using Bier block anesthesia by a single surgeon over a 4-year period were reviewed. Data collected included patient demographics, procedure(s) performed, complications, tourniquet time and settings, procedure and in-room time, and supplemental medications administered. Results: In all, 319 patients were included, 103 from a university hospital and 216 from an ambulatory surgery center. The most commonly performed procedures were carpal tunnel release (205 cases) and trigger digit release (83 cases). Most patients received a 125-mg dose of lidocaine for the Bier block; many also received additional sedatives. Twenty-three patients received no additional medications. No patients required conversion to general anesthesia. One complication (0.3%) occurred, with paresthesias and tinnitus that resolved without intervention. The average tourniquet time was 24 minutes (SD = 4.3 minutes). Patients were discharged at a median of 49 minutes postoperatively, and 9.1% of patients received supplemental analgesics prior to discharge. Conclusions: Regional anesthesia achieved with a forearm tourniquet and intravenous local anesthetic provides adequate pain control, permits timely discharge home, and has a low complication rate. It should be considered for use in outpatient hand procedures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)353-359
Number of pages7
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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