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Anesthesiology. 2009 Aug;111(2):406-15. doi: 10.1097/ALN.0b013e3181aae897.

Clonidine as an adjuvant to local anesthetics for peripheral nerve and plexus blocks: a meta-analysis of randomized trials.

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Department of Anesthesiology and Intensive Care, University Hospital Münster, Münster, Germany.


The effect of adding clonidine to local anesthetics for nerve or plexus blocks remains unclear. The authors searched for randomized placebo-controlled trials testing the impact of adding clonidine to local anesthetics for peripheral single-injection nerve or plexus blocks in adults undergoing any surgery (except eye) without general anesthesia. Twenty trials (1,054 patients, 573 received clonidine) published 1992-2006 tested plexus (14 brachial, 1 cervical) and nerve blocks (2 sciatic/femoral, 1 midhumeral, 1 ilioinguinal/iliohypogastric, 1 ankle). Clonidine doses ranged from 30 to 300 microg; most patients received 150 microg. Clonidine prolonged the duration of postoperative analgesia (weighted mean difference 122 min; 95% confidence interval [CI] 74-169), sensory block (weighted mean difference 74 min; 95% CI 37-111), and motor block (weighted mean difference 141 min; 95% CI 82-199). In a subgroup of patients receiving an axillary plexus block, these effects were independent of whether clonidine was added to an intermediate or a long-acting local anesthetic. Clonidine increased the risk of arterial hypotension (odds ratio 3.61; 95% CI 1.52-8.55; number-needed-to-harm 11), orthostatic hypotension or fainting (odds ratio 5.07; 95% CI 1.20-21.4; number-needed-to-harm 10), bradycardia (odds ratio 3.09; 95% CI 1.10-8.64; number-needed-to-harm 13), and sedation (odds ratio 2.28; 95% CI 1.15-4.51; number-needed-to-harm 5). There was a lack of evidence of dose-responsiveness for beneficial or harmful effects. Clonidine added to intermediate or long-acting local anesthetics for single-shot peripheral nerve or plexus blocks prolongs duration of analgesia and motor block by about 2 h. The increased risk of hypotension, fainting, and sedation may limit its usefulness. Dose-responsiveness remains unclear.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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