Objective: To assess the safety and effectiveness of intravenous regional anesthesia (Bier block) in the management of forearm injuries (i.e., forearm, wrist or hand) by primary care physicians at a diagnostic and treatment facility.
Methods: A retrospective review was conducted of all patients at a single centre who underwent a Bier block for forearm injuries between September 2000 and March 2005.
Results: 1816 Bier blocks were performed on 1804 patients (64% male) during the study period. Patient age ranged from 4-70 (mean 25) years. Wrist fractures requiring reduction were the most common diagnosis. Adverse events were recorded in 9 cases (0.50%, 95% confidence interval 0.23%-0.94%): 1 case of medication error (0.06%); 3 of improper cuff inflation (0.17%); and 5 of inadequate analgesia (0.28%). None of the adverse events resulted in failure to complete the procedure or in serious morbidity or mortality.
Conclusion: Bier block anesthesia is a safe, effective and reliable technique in an outpatient primary care setting. This technique is a useful modality for physicians who manage acute upper-extremity injuries.