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A Journal on Anesthesiology, Resuscitation, Analgesia and Intensive Care

Official Journal of the Italian Society of Anesthesiology, Analgesia, Resuscitation and Intensive Care
Indexed/Abstracted in: Current Contents/Clinical Medicine, EMBASE, PubMed/MEDLINE, Science Citation Index Expanded (SciSearch), Scopus
Impact Factor 2,036

Frequency: Monthly

ISSN 0375-9393

Online ISSN 1827-1596


Minerva Anestesiologica 2012 December;78(12):1348-56


Soft tissue depression at the iliac crest prominence: a new landmark for identifying the L4-L5 interspace

Borghi B. 1, Tognù A. 2, White P. F. 3, 4, 5, Paolini S. 1, Van Oven H. 2, Aurini L. 1, Mordenti A. 1, Spada S. 1, Bosco M. 6

1 Department of Surgery and Anesthesiology, University of Bologna, Research Unit of Anesthesia and Intensive Care, Rizzoli Orthopedic Institute, Bologna, Italy;
2 Department of Anesthesiology and Postoperative Intensive Care, Rizzoli Orthopedic Institute, Bologna, Italy;
3 Departments of Anesthesiology at Cedars Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, CA, USA;
4 Research Unit of Anesthesia and Intensive Care, Rizzoli Orthopedic Institute, Bologna, Italy;
5 White Mountain Institute, Los Altos, CA, USA;
6 Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine, Catholic University Sacred Heart, Rome, Italy

BACKGROUND: One of the most common approaches to identifying the L4-L5 interspace is using the iliac crest as a landmark. We propose a new landmark to identify the L4-L5 interspace based on the soft tissue depression palpable at the iliac crest prominence. The aim of this study was to assess the reliability and time saving when using this new landmark compared to using the iliac crest to perform a lumbar plexus block.
METHODS: Fifty-four patients scheduled for lower limb surgery were randomly allocated to have a lumbar plexus block performed using the iliac crest (Chayen’s approach) or the soft tissue depression (Borghi’s approach). The landmarks for both approaches were drawn on each patient prior to randomization (N.=27 per group). All the blocks were performed by an anesthesiologist familiar with both techniques using a nerve stimulator and 30 mL of 0.5% levobupivacaine. The time to achieve successful needle placement and the number of needle re-directions, as well as the onset time for the sensory and motor blockade, were recorded.
RESULTS: All the blocks using Borghi’s approach were performed successfully. With the Chayen’s approach, there were 5 needle placement failures. The mean times to onset of a successful block after injection of the local anesthetic did not differ between the two groups: 17.8±3.9 min for the Chayen vs. 15.9±2.4 min for the Borghi’s approach (P=0.14). However, the mean time to achieve correct needle placement was 7.6±3.2 min with the Chayen’s approach compared to 5.1 (±2.6 SD) min with the Borghi’s approach (P<0.01). The Chayen’s approach also required a significantly higher median number of needle redirections (2 [inter-quartile range (IQR): 0-4] vs. 0 [IQR: 0-4], P<0.01). In obese patients (BMI ≥30 kg/m2), the mean placement time was 10.5±1.7 min vs. 4.8±2.1 min (P<0.01), and median number of needle re-directions was 2.5 (IQR: 2-3) vs. 0.5 (IQR: 0-3) (P=0.04), with the Chayen and Borghi’s approach, respectively.
CONCLUSION: Use of the palpable soft tissue depression at the iliac crest prominence for performing a lumbar plexus block offered several potential advantages over the standard inter-iliac crest approach.

language: English


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