Pubmed Monday

Point-of-care ultrasound in pregnancy gastric, airway, neuraxial, cardiorespiratory


Purpose of review: This review focuses on the use of point-of-care ultrasound (PoCUS) in the obstetric context for airway management and assessment of aspiration risk, the placement of neuraxial blocks and the diagnosis and follow-up of cardiorespiratory dysfunction.

Recent findings: Gastric ultrasound is a useful aspiration risk assessment tool in pregnant patients. Total gastric fluid assessment models and specific cut-offs between high-risk and low-risk stomachs are presented. Airway assessment is useful to detect specific changes in pregnancy and to guide airway management. Handheld ultrasound devices with automated neuraxial landmark detection capabilities could facilitate needle placement in the future. Lung and cardiac ultrasonography is useful in the management of preeclampsia, pulmonary arterial hypertension and peripartum cardiomyopathy.

Summary: Owing to its noninvasiveness, ease of accessibility and lack of exposure to radiation, PoCUS plays an increasing and essential role in aspiration risk assessment, airway management, neuraxial anaesthesia and cardiorespiratory diagnosis and decision-making during pregnancy.

Congenital heart disease in adults (when kids grow up) pediatric geriatric anesthesia


Purpose of review: The current review focuses on the new development of adult congenital heart disease (ACHD) patients in the areas of imaging, percutaneous interventions, ventricular assist devices and transplantation.

Recent findings: Since the last ACHD publication in the journal, several advances have been made in the evaluation and treatment of these patients. As CHD patients' longevity increases pregnancy, comorbities and acquired heart disease become a concern. Recent data show that the incidence of complications in low-risk CHD is not higher that the regular population. In addition, breakthrough research in percutaneous valve implantation has been published showing good outcomes but needing intensive care recovery in a significant number of patients. In the ACHD heart failure population, assist device and transplant fields mounting evidence shows that these therapies should not be the last resort since low-risk ACHD patient may have similar outcomes to those with acquired heart disease. Finally risk stratification is important in ACHD to define better ways to recover from surgery and anesthesia.

Summary: The field of anesthesia for ACHD is growing with new indications for diagnostic, interventional and surgical procedures. Tailoring cardiac and noncardiac care to the different risk profile in ACHD patients will be defined in the next few years.

Learning from the law. A review of 21 years of litigation for nerve injury following central neuraxial blockade in obstetrics.


Medicolegal claims for neurological injury following the use of central neuraxial blockade in childbirth represent the second most common claim against obstetric anaesthetists. We present an analysis of 55 cases from a database of 368 obstetric anaesthetic claims. Common themes that emerge from the analysis include: consent; nature of nerve injury (non-anaesthetic; direct; chemical; compressive); recognition; and management. Specific advice arising from these cases includes: the importance of informing patients of the risks of nerve damage; keeping below the conus of the cord for intrathecal procedures; responding appropriately if a patient complains of paraesthesia; and having a high index of suspicion if recovery of normal neurological function is delayed. As ever, principles of good practice, including respect for patient autonomy, early provision of information, good communication and a high standard of record-keeping, will minimise the frustration of patients that can then lead them to seek a legal route to redress if they suffer an injury following central neuraxial blockade.

Obstetric anesthesia management of the patient with cardiac disease.


Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of maternal mortality in much of the developed world. Risk stratification models can predict which patients are at greatest risk for maternal or fetal morbidity or mortality. Particular cardiac diseases hold significant risk of mortality during pregnancy including pulmonary hypertension, aortic aneurysm, left-ventricular outflow tract obstruction, and severe cardiomyopathy. High-risk patients should deliver at high-resource hospitals under the care of experts in cardiology, obstetrics, perinatology, neonatology and anesthesiology. The obstetric anesthesiologist should formulate delivery plans for cardiac monitoring, labor analgesia, cesarean anesthesia, postpartum monitoring, as well as plans for obstetric or cardiac emergencies. Carefully co-ordinated multidisciplinary care of pregnant women with cardiac disease can result in successful outcomes.

Ultrasound-guided blocks for cardiovascular surgery: which block for which patient?


PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Regional anesthesia blocks may benefit patients undergoing cardiovascular surgery. This review coincides with the evolution of ultrasound-guided fascial plane blocks, societal concerns regarding opioid misuse and changing expectations regarding surgical recovery.

RECENT FINDINGS: Paravertebral block and thoracic epidural analgesia have comparable postoperative analgesic profiles following thoracotomy; however, the former has a more favorable complication profile. Limited trials have compared these modalities in cardiac surgery. The mechanism of action of continuous paravertebral blockade may be systemic. Bilateral continuous paravertebral (and other continuous peripheral nerve blocks) should be used with caution in adult patients having cardiac surgery because of the risk of systemic local anesthetic toxicity and bleeding. Novel ultrasound-guided blocks: erector spinae, serratus anterior, pectoral, transversus thoracic muscle and pecto-intercostal fascial plane blocks potentially reduce postoperative opioid requirements; however, they require further investigation before their routine use can be recommended in adult cardiovascular surgical practice. The mechanism of action of erector spinae block is not fully elucidated.

SUMMARY: Ultrasound-guided fascial plane blocks may reduce postoperative opioid requirements. Investigation into the safety and efficacy of bilateral continuous ultrasound-guided blockade for cardiac surgery is required. Trial protocols should be embedded into enhanced recovery after surgery programs. Patient-reported and long-term outcomes are recommended.

Atrial Fibrillation: Current Evidence and Management Strategies During the Perioperative Period.


Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common arrhythmia in the perioperative period. Previously considered a benign and self-limited entity, recent data suggest that perioperative AF is associated with considerable morbidity and mortality and may predict long-term AF and stroke risk in some patients. Despite known risk factors, AF remains largely unpredictable, especially after noncardiac surgery. As a consequence, strategies to minimize perioperative risk are mostly supportive and include avoiding potential arrhythmogenic triggers and proactively treating patient- and surgery-related factors that might precipitate AF. In addition to managing AF itself, clinicians must also address the hemodynamic perturbations that result from AF to prevent end-organ dysfunction. This review will discuss current evidence with respect to causes, risk factors, and outcomes of patients with AF, and address current controversies in the perioperative setting.

Difficult Airway Society guidelines for awake tracheal intubation (ATI) in adults.


Awake tracheal intubation has a high success rate and a favourable safety profile but is underused in cases of anticipated difficult airway management. These guidelines are a comprehensive document to support decision making, preparation and practical performance of awake tracheal intubation. We performed a systematic review of the literature seeking all of the available evidence for each element of awake tracheal intubation in order to make recommendations. In the absence of high-quality evidence, expert consensus and a Delphi study were used to formulate recommendations. We highlight key areas of awake tracheal intubation in which specific recommendations were made, which included: indications; procedural setup; checklists; oxygenation; airway topicalisation; sedation; verification of tracheal tube position; complications; management of unsuccessful awake tracheal intubation; post-tracheal intubation management; consent; and training. We recognise that there are a range of techniques and regimens that may be effective and one such example technique is included. Breaking down the key practical elements of awake tracheal intubation into sedation, topicalisation, oxygenation and performance might help practitioners to plan, perform and address complications. These guidelines aim to support clinical practice and help lower the threshold for performing awake tracheal intubation when indicated.

Perioperative blood pressure in the elderly.


PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Hemodynamic instability is common in the perioperative period because of obligate physiologic changes that occur with surgery. Despite the frequency of such hemodynamic changes and the potential harm associated with them, particularly in the elderly, guidelines to optimize perioperative blood pressure are lacking. The present review examines recent evidence for perioperative blood pressure management in the elderly.

RECENT FINDINGS: Hypotension has been associated with poor outcomes, particularly renal injury, myocardial injury, and increased mortality, in the perioperative period. Hypertension, tachycardia, frequency of blood pressure monitoring, and management of chronic antihypertensive medications may also affect patient outcomes. Elderly patients may be especially prone to adverse events associated with perioperative hemodynamic instability.

SUMMARY: Precise and intentional management of hemodynamic parameters, medication regimens, and blood pressure monitoring may reduce adverse events in elderly patients undergoing surgery. Further investigation is required to identify the exact hemodynamic parameters that mitigate risk.

Anesthetic management of lung transplantation: impact of presenting disease.


PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Recent literature has described the emerging role of anesthesiologists as key members of the lung transplantation team and the impact of anesthetic management on outcomes. This review examines the impact of presenting cause of end-stage lung disease (ESLD) on anesthetic management.

RECENT FINDINGS: The four primary causes of ESLD are suppurative, obstructive, or restrictive processes, and pulmonary hypertension. Our recent review of perioperative literature revealed new data regarding preoperative risk stratification, intraoperative management, and postoperative use of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) support. Major studies specifically about anesthetic management are lacking; however, the principles studied are readily applicable to the design of a perioperative care plan. The most compelling data have resulted in a revolutionary change in terms of intraoperative support and postoperative planning for pulmonary hypertension patients. Historically treated with cardiopulmonary bypass, significant data have been reported describing the successful use of ECMO both as an intraoperative support with superior outcomes, as well as postoperative support for improved stability during biventricular remodeling post graft implantation.

SUMMARY: The application of these updated findings should assist anesthesiologists as they develop internal protocols and external guidelines to integrate within multidisciplinary teams caring for the lung transplant patient.

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