Single-Shot Femoral Nerve Block Does Not Cause Long-Term Strength and Functional Deficits Following Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction.

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Arthroscopy : the journal of arthroscopic & related surgery : official publication of the Arthroscopy Association of North America and the International Arthroscopy Association


PURPOSE: To determine if patients treated with a single-shot femoral nerve block have strength and functional deficits at 9-month follow-up.

METHODS: Forty-three patients who underwent primary anterior cruciate ligament reconstructions were randomized to receive either a preoperative single-shot femoral nerve block or local infiltration anesthesia for primary pain control. All patients underwent a standardized comprehensive rehabilitation program postoperatively. Isokinetic strength and function was tested using a Biodex machine at 9 months or more postoperatively comparing the operative and nonoperative extremity.

RESULTS: No significant difference in strength was found at an average of 10.6 months postoperatively (range, 9-15 months) between the femoral nerve block and control groups. In comparing strength deficits, we found no difference in slow isokinetic extension strength (22.4% vs 27.8%, P = .51), fast isokinetic extension strength (18.5% vs 12.5%, P = .41), slow isokinetic flexion strength (11.0% vs 15.1%, P = .55), and fast isokinetic flexion strength (8.2% vs 4.9%, P = .56) in the femoral nerve block versus control groups, respectively. In terms of functional outcomes, there also was no difference in deficits for single-leg hop distance (P = .12), timed single-leg hop (P = .74), and single-leg triple hop distance (P = .94). Maximal strength noted to be within 15% of the contralateral limb was achieved in 40% of patients and maximal function in 63% of patients at an average of 10.6 months postoperatively. A 13% complication rate was found in patients who received a femoral nerve block (1 with prolonged quadriceps inhibition and 2 with prolonged sensory disturbances).

CONCLUSIONS: Our study found a 13% motor/sensory complication rate in patients who underwent femoral nerve block for pain control after anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction. Although these deficits may persist, they are not permanent and are not different when compared with controls at 9-month follow-up. However, maximal strength and function are not fully restored at normal return to play time and rehabilitation should continue long term to maximize recovery.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Level I, prospective randomized trial.

Medical Subject Headings

Adult; Anesthesia, Local; Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries; Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction; Female; Femoral Nerve; Follow-Up Studies; Humans; Male; Muscle Strength; Nerve Block; Pain, Postoperative; Prospective Studies

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