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Nerve Blocks Tied to Less Nausea and Vomiting after Orthopedic Surgery

San Francisco, CA—April 7, 2017

When patients are given peripheral nerve blocks as their primary anesthetic, they are less likely to experience nausea and vomiting after orthopedic surgery.  This trend existed regardless of if the peripheral nerve block was paired with general anesthesia, intravenous sedation, or spinal anesthesia, new data suggests.

The new research, conducted by researchers at Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS), was presented today at the annual meeting of the American Society of Regional Anesthesiologists (ASRA).  The team of investigators reported the rates and intensity of nausea among three groups of orthopedic patients -- patients who received an interscalene nerve block with general anesthesia during shoulder replacement surgery (n=15); patients who received an interscalene nerve block with intravenous sedation during shoulder replacement surgery (n=15); and patients who received sciatic and adductor canal nerve blocks combined with spinal anesthesia during foot and ankle surgery (n=15).

Peripheral nerve blocks, a type of regional anesthesia, can be used for many types of surgery to numb part of the body for an operation, but in many cases, nerve blocks are insufficient in ensuring patient satisfaction and in meeting surgeons' needs and must be paired with a secondary anesthetic. While general anesthesia can be used on its own, its use can be associated with severe nausea and vomiting. The researchers sought to investigate if peripheral nerve blocks, paired with general anesthesia, spinal anesthesia, or intravenous sedation, would have the same disadvantages of general anesthesia on its own.

The incidence of nausea was low among all patient groups, and there were no notable differences in the severity of nausea. Recovery was similar over emotional, physiological, and cognitive measurements.

"Peripheral nerve blocks, given with an opioid sparing anesthetic and prophylactic antiemetics, are associated with a low incidence of nausea of mild to moderate intensity," commented Jacques YaDeau, MD, PhD, director of research within the Department of Anesthesiology at HSS.

"Randomized controlled trials are needed to address whether the choice of sedation, spinal, or general anesthesia influences nausea or postoperative quality of recovery in the presence of adequate peripheral nerve blockade," noted Dr. YaDeau.


Luu TH, Roberts MM, Gadulov Y, Fields KG, Kahn RL, Gulotta  LV, Dines DM, Levine DS, LaSala VR, Gordon MA, Paroli L,  YaDeau JT. “Recovery Profile among Orthopedic Patients Receiving Peripheral Nerve Blocks. A Pilot Study.” Abstract presented at: American Society of Regional Anesthesiologists 2017 Annual Meeting; April 6-8; San Francisco, CA.


About HSS | Hospital for Special Surgery
HSS is the world’s leading academic medical center focused on musculoskeletal health. At its core is Hospital for Special Surgery, nationally ranked No. 1 in orthopedics (for the ninth consecutive year) and No. 3 in rheumatology by U.S.News & World Report (2018-2019). Founded in 1863, the Hospital has one of the lowest infection rates in the country and was the first in New York State to receive Magnet Recognition for Excellence in Nursing Service from the American Nurses Credentialing Center four consecutive times. The global standard total knee replacement was developed at HSS in 1969. An affiliate of Weill Cornell Medical College, HSS has a main campus in New York City and facilities in New Jersey, Connecticut and in the Long Island and Westchester County regions of New York State. In 2017 HSS provided care to 135,000 patients and performed more than 32,000 surgical procedures. People from all 50 U.S. states and 80 countries travelled to receive care at HSS. In addition to patient care, HSS leads the field in research, innovation and education. The HSS Research Institute comprises 20 laboratories and 300 staff members focused on leading the advancement of musculoskeletal health through prevention of degeneration, tissue repair and tissue regeneration. The HSS Global Innovation Institute was formed in 2016 to realize the potential of new drugs, therapeutics and devices. The culture of innovation is accelerating at HSS as 130 new idea submissions were made to the Global Innovation Institute in 2017 (almost 3x the submissions in 2015). The HSS Education Institute is the world’s leading provider of education on the topic of musculoskeletal health, with its online learning platform offering more than 600 courses to more than 21,000 medical professional members worldwide. Through HSS Global Ventures, the institution is collaborating with medical centers and other organizations to advance the quality and value of musculoskeletal care and to make world-class HSS care more widely accessible nationally and internationally.


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