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Anesth Analg. 1995 Jun;80(6):1158-62.

Activation of the Bezold-Jarisch reflex in the sitting position for shoulder arthroscopy using interscalene block.

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Department of Anesthesiology, University of Tennessee School of Medicine, Memphis, USA.


A retrospective analysis of 116 patients who underwent shoulder arthroscopy in the sitting position with interscalene block (ISB) revealed 20 patients who experienced potentially dangerous vasovagal events characterized by sudden severe hypotension and bradycardia (Group 1). The event occurred 61 +/- 18 min after the block placement. Ninety-six patients (Group 2) did not experience a vasovagal event. Of the patients in Group 2, 18 received beta-adrenergic blockers for increasing heart rate and/or arterial blood pressure (Group 2B) while 78 did not (Group 2A). The number receiving beta-adrenergic blockers was significantly greater than in Group 1 (18/96 vs 0/20, P < 0.05). There were no significant demographic or baseline hemodynamic differences between groups, but the beta-adrenergic blocker and vagal groups showed significantly greater intraoperative peak heart rates (P < 0.05). All patients received epinephrine in their local anesthetic for ISB, incision sites, and articular irrigating solution. Total and weight-corrected epinephrine doses differed significantly between groups (lowest in Group 2A, P < 0.01). Activation of the Bezold-Jarisch reflex, induced by increased circulating epinephrine levels and the sitting position, is the postulated mechanism.

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