Ophthalmic regional blocks: management, challenges, and solutions
Howard D Palte
Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative Medicine and Pain Management, Miller School of Medicine, University of Miami, Miami, FL, USA
Abstract: In the past decade ophthalmic anesthesia has witnessed a major transformation. The sun has set on the landscape of ophthalmic procedures performed under general anesthesia at in-hospital settings. In its place a new dawn has ushered in the panorama of eye surgeries conducted under regional and topical anesthesia at specialty eye care centers. The impact of the burgeoning geriatric population is that an increasing number of elderly patients will present for eye surgery. In order to accommodate increased patient volumes and simultaneously satisfy administrative initiatives directed at economic frugality, administrators will seek assistance from anesthesia providers in adopting measures that enhance operating room efficiency. The performance of eye blocks in a holding suite meets many of these objectives. Unfortunately, most practicing anesthesiologists resist performing ophthalmic regional blocks because they lack formal training. In future, anesthesiologists will need to block eyes and manage common medical conditions because economic pressures will eliminate routine preoperative testing. This review addresses a variety of topical issues in ophthalmic anesthesia with special emphasis on cannula and needle-based blocks and the new-generation antithrombotic agents. In a constantly evolving arena, the sub-Tenon’s block has gained popularity while the deep angulated intraconal (retrobulbar) block has been largely superseded by the shallower extraconal (peribulbar) approach. Improvements in surgical technique have also impacted anesthetic practice. For example, phacoemulsification techniques facilitate the conduct of cataract surgery under topical anesthesia, and suture-free vitrectomy ports may cause venous air embolism during air/fluid exchange. Hyaluronidase is a useful adjuvant because it promotes local anesthetic diffusion and hastens block onset time but it is allergenic. Ultrasound-guided eye blocks afford real-time visualization of needle position and local anesthetic spread. An advantage of sonic guidance is that it may eliminate the hazard of globe perforation by identifying abnormal anatomy, such as staphyloma.
Keywords: ophthalmic anesthesia, venous air embolism, anticoagulation, hyaluronidase, ultrasound, ocular trauma
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