Infectious complications of regional anesthesia.

Department of Anesthesiology, College of Medicine, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN 55905, USA.
Baillière&#x27 s Best Practice and Research in Clinical Anaesthesiology 10/2008; 22(3):451-75. DOI: 10.1016/j.bpa.2008.06.003
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Although individual cases have been reported in the literature, serious infections of the central nervous system (CNS) such as arachnoiditis, meningitis, and abscess following spinal or epidural anesthesia are rare. However, recent epidemiologic series from Europe suggest that the frequency of infectious complications associated with neuraxial techniques may be increasing. Importantly, while meningitis and epidural abscess are both complications of neuraxial block, the risk factors and causative organisms are disparate. For example, staphylococcus is the organism most commonly associated epidural abscess; often these infections occurred in patients with impaired immunity. Conversely, meningitis follows dural puncture, and is typically caused by alpha-hemolytic streptococci, with the source of the organism the nasopharynx of the proceduralist. In order to reduce the risk of serious infection following neuraxial blockade, the clinician must be knowledgeable in the pathogenesis of CNS infections, patient selection, and use of meticulous aseptic technique. Finally, since delay in the diagnosis may result in morbidity and even death, it is crucial to be aware of the presenting signs and symptoms of meningitis and epidural abscess.

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