Although the ultrasound-guided rectus sheath block (RSB) is usually regarded as an easy and safe procedure in clinical settings, there is currently no report on complications incidence. Therefore, the present study investigated complications in a large cohort and described the technical considerations to minimize complications of real-time ultrasound-guided RSBs.
This was a retrospective cohort study of patients who underwent real-time ultrasound-guided RSBs for perioperative pain control in laparoscopic surgery with an umbilical port between February 1, 2017, and February 28, 2021, at the Asan Medical Center in South Korea. All RSBs were performed bilaterally using a 23-gauge Quincke needle, and a bilateral 2-block placement was regarded as 1 RSB. Patient data, including demographics, preoperative laboratory data, preoperative antiplatelet or anticoagulant medication with the duration of discontinuation, and type of surgery, were collected to show the study population characteristics and explore potential factors associated with adverse events such as hematoma. Ultrasound images of patients and adverse events of RSBs, including extrarectus sheath injections, vascular injuries, bowel injury, or local anesthetic systemic toxicity, were also analyzed accordingly.
A total of 4033 procedures were analyzed. The mean body mass index of the patients was 24.1 (21.8–26.5) kg/m2. The preoperative laboratory data were within normal range in 4028 (99.9%) patients. Preoperative antiplatelets or anticoagulants were administered in 17.3% of the patients. Overall, 96 complications (2.4%) were observed. Among them, extrarectus sheath injection occurred in 88 cases (2.2%), which included preperitoneal injection (0.9%) and intraperitoneal injection (1.3%). Vascular injuries constituted 8 cases (0.2%) and all vascular injuries resulted in hematoma: 7 cases of inferior epigastric artery injury with rectus sheath hematoma and 1 of inferior mesenteric artery injury with retroperitoneal hematoma. Bowel injury or local anesthetic systemic toxicity was not reported.
In this study of RSBs performed on 4033 patients using a 23-gauge Quincke needle in patients with low body mass index, there were 8 cases (0.2%) of vascular injury, all of which accompanied hematoma.