Perineural Dexmedetomidine Is More Effective Than Clonidine When Added to Local Anesthetic for Supraclavicular Brachial Plexus Block: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis.

El-Boghdadly K, Brull R, Sehmbi H, Abdallah FW.

Anesth Analg. 2017 Jun;124(6):2008-2020.


Clonidine, an α-2 agonist, has long been used as a local anesthetic adjunct with proven efficacy to prolong peripheral nerve block duration. Dexmedetomidine, a newer α-2 agonist, has a more favorable pharmacodynamic and safety profile; however, data comparing its efficacy as an adjunct to that of clonidine are inconsistent. We sought to compare the clinical efficacy of these 2 α-2 agonists by examining their effects on peripheral nerve block characteristics for upper extremity surgery.

A preliminary search found that the overwhelming majority of randomized controlled trials comparing perineural dexmedetomidine to clonidine for upper extremity surgery were in the setting of supraclavicular brachial plexus block (SCB). Therefore, we performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials comparing dexmedetomidine with clonidine as perineural adjuncts to single-injection SCB. Sensory and motor block duration and onset, analgesic duration, α-2 agonist side effects, and block complications were analyzed. Sensory block duration was designated as a primary outcome. Data were combined using random-effects modeling, and ratio-of-means was used to analyze the results.

A total of 868 patients from 14 clinical studies were included in the analysis. Compared with clonidine, dexmedetomidine prolonged the duration (ratio of means [95% confidence interval {CI}]) of sensory block by an estimate of 1.2 (1.2-1.3; P< .00001). It also prolonged the duration (ratio of means [99% CI]) of motor block by an estimate of 1.2 (1.1-1.3; P < .00001), and analgesia by an estimate of 1.2 (1.1-1.3; P < .00001). It also hastened the onset of sensory block by an estimate of 0.9 (0.8-1.0; P < .00001) and motor block by an estimate of 0.9 (0.9-1.0; P = .002). Dexmedetomidine was associated with an increased odds ratio (99% CI) of transient bradycardia by an estimate of 7.4 (1.3-40.8; P = .003) and postoperative sedation by an estimate of 11.8 (1.9-73.6; P = .0005). There were no differences in other α-2 agonist-related side effects or block-related complications.

Compared with clonidine as a local anesthetic adjunct for single-injection SCB, perineural dexmedetomidine enhances sensory, motor, and analgesic block characteristics. These benefits should be weighed against the increased risk of transient bradycardia.


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