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Achieving the Optimal Epinephrine Effect with Local Anesthesia in Hand Surgery

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... Keep in mind that, in cases done with pure WALANT, it takes about 30 minutes after administration for the chemical tourniquet effect of epinephrine to be optimal. 19 In the authors' clinic workflow (Fig. 2), surgeries are scheduled at the beginning or end of a clinic day. An alternative model is to schedule surgery-only days. ...
Article
Office-based surgery (OBS) with wide-awake local anesthesia no tourniquet (WALANT) surgery is a safe and cost-effective care model that is convenient for patient and provider alike. Currently, the practice is growing, but in the majority of North America the ambulatory-care center is still the most common setting for hand surgery. This article discusses the practical issues of implementing OBS with WALANT including clinical setup and workflows for OBS, negotiating payor contracts, and managing liability.
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This is a review article of the wide-awake approach to hand surgery. More than 95% of all hand surgery can now be performed without a tourniquet. Epinephrine is injected with lidocaine for hemostasis and anesthesia instead of a tourniquet and sedation. This is sedation-free surgery, much like a visit to a dental office. The myth of danger of using epinephrine in the finger is reviewed. The wide awake technique is greatly improving results in tendon repair, tenolysis, and tendon transfer. Here, we will explain its advantages.
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Over 70% of Canadian carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) operations are performed outside of the main operating room (OR) with field sterility and surgeon-administered pure local anesthesia [LeBlanc et al., Hand 2(4):173-8, 14]. Is main OR sterility necessary to avoid infection for this operation? This study evaluates the infection rate in carpal tunnel release (CTR) using minor procedure room field sterility. This is a multicenter prospective study reporting the rate of infection in CTR performed in minor procedure room setting using field sterility. Field sterility means prepping of the hand with iodine or chlorhexidine, equivalent of a single drape, and a sterile tray with modest instruments. Sterile gloves and masks are used, but surgeons are not gowned. No prophylactic antibiotics are given. One thousand five hundred four consecutive CTS cases were collected from January 2008 to January 2010. Six superficial infections were reported and four of those patients received oral antibiotics. No deep postoperative wound infection was encountered, and no patient required admission to hospital, incision and drainage, or intravenous antibiotics. A superficial infection rate of 0.4% and a deep infection rate of 0% following CTR using field sterility confirm the low incidence of postoperative wound infection using field sterility. This supports the safety and low incidence of postoperative wound infection in CTR using minor procedure field sterility without prophylactic antibiotics. The higher monetary and environmental costs of main OR sterility are not justified on the basis of infection for CTR cases.
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Wide-awake flexor tendon repair in tourniquet-free unsedated patients permits intraoperative Total Active Movement examination (iTAMe) of the freshly repaired flexor tendon. This technique has permitted the intraoperative observation of tendon repair gapping induced by active movement when the core suture is tied too loosely. The gap can be repaired intraoperatively to decrease postoperative tendon repair rupture rates. The authors record their rupture rate in the first 15 years of experience with iTAMe. This was a retrospective chart review of 102 consecutive patients with wide-awake flexor tendon repair (no tourniquet, no sedation, and pure locally injected lidocaine with epinephrine anesthesia) in which iTAMe was performed by two hand surgeons in two Canadian cities between 1998 and 2008. Intraoperative gapping and postoperative rupture were analyzed. The authors observed intraoperative bunching and gap formation with active movement in flexor tendon repair testing (iTAMe) in seven patients. In all seven cases, they redid the repair and repeated iTAMe to confirm gapping was eliminated before closing the skin, and those seven patients did not rupture postoperatively. In 68 patients with known outcomes, four of 122 tendons ruptured (tendon rupture rate, 3.3 percent) in three of 68 patients (patient rupture rate, 4.4 percent). All three patients who ruptured had accidental jerk forced rupture. All those patients who did what we asked them did not rupture. Tendons can gap with active movement if the core suture is tied too loosely. Gapping can be recognized intraoperatively with iTAMe and repaired to decrease postoperative rupture.
Article
Background: The time until maximal cutaneous vasoconstriction after injection of lidocaine with epinephrine is often given in textbooks and multiple choice examinations as 7 to 10 minutes. However, in our experience, there is significantly less cutaneous bleeding if one waits considerably longer than 7 to 10 minutes after injection of local anesthesia with epinephrine for most procedures on human skin. Methods: This was a prospective, randomized, triple-blind study where 12 volunteers were injected simultaneously in each arm with either 1% lidocaine with epinephrine (study group) or 1% plain lidocaine (control group), after which the relative hemoglobin concentration of the underlying skin and soft tissues was measured over time using spectroscopy. Results: In the epinephrine group, the mean time at which the lowest cutaneous hemoglobin level was obtained was 25.9 minutes (95 percent CI, 25.9 ± 5.1 minutes). This was significantly longer than the historical literature values of 7 to 10 minutes for maximum vasoconstriction after injection. Mean hemoglobin index values at every time measurement after postinjection minute 1 were significantly different between the study group and the control group, with use of a two-tailed paired t test (p < 0.01). Conclusions: If optimal visualization is desired, the ideal time for the surgeon to begin the incision should be 25 minutes after injection of local anesthetic with epinephrine. It takes considerably longer than 7 to 10 minutes for a new local equilibrium to be obtained in relation to hemoglobin quantity.
Article
The effectiveness of local anesthetics is improved by the addition of a vasoconstrictor which increases duration of action and decreases both systemic toxic reactions and local bleeding. Epinephrine, the standard drug for vasoconstriction, has some limitations due to potential dose-related cardiac and local toxic effects. The authors examined the minimal effective epinephrine concentration required for maximal cutaneous vasoconstriction in the human subject so as to limit potential dose-related side effects. In a randomized, double-blinded prospective study, 23 patients undergoing head and neck surgical procedures under general anesthesia were enrolled to quantify the effect of subdermal infiltration of 1% lidocaine with epinephrine at varying concentrations on local cutaneous bloodflow utilizing laser Doppler flowmetry. A comparison of the onset of vasoconstriction and magnitude of diminished bloodflow was made for several commonly used concentrations of epinephrine, with 1% lidocaine and normal saline serving as controls. There were no significant differences (P>.05) between epinephrine concentrations of 1:400,000, 1:200,000, 1:100,000, and 1:50,000 when examining onset and magnitude of vasoconstriction.
Article
Quantification of the effect of subcutaneous infiltration of saline with epinephrine and of lidocaine with epinephrine on local cutaneous blood flow was accomplished utilizing the laser Doppler method. A comparison of the onset of vasoconstriction, magnitude of diminished blood flow, and duration of effect was made for several commonly used concentrations of epinephrine. Injected solutions containing epinephrine in concentrations of 1: 200,000 and higher offered good vasoconstrictor effects when both the magnitude and duration of flow reduction were considered. There was a significant (P = 0.0001) difference in flow between epinephrine concentrations of 1:400,000 and all others. There were no significant differences (P > 0.05) between concentrations of 1:200,000 and 1:100,000 or 1:100,000 and 1:50,000.
Article
Wide awake hand surgery means no sedation, no tourniquet, and no general anesthesia for hand surgery. The only medications given to the patient are lidocaine with epinephrine. Lidocaine is for anesthesia, and epinephrine provides hemostasis, which deletes the need for a tourniquet. The advantages are: (1) the ability of the comfortable unsedated tourniquet-free patient to perform active movement of the reconstructed structures during surgery so the surgeon can make alterations to the reconstruction before the skin is closed to improve the outcome of many surgeries; and (2) the deletion of all risks, costs, and inconveniences of sedation and general anesthesia.