Ultrasound-guided sciatic nerve block in the popliteal fossa using a lateral approach: onset time comparing separate tibial and common peroneal nerve injections versus injecting proximal to the bifurcation

Anesth Analg. 2010 Feb 1;110(2):635-7. doi: 10.1213/ANE.0b013e3181c88f27. Epub 2009 Dec 8.


Background: We hypothesized that blocking the tibial and common peroneal nerves individually using ultrasound distal to sciatic bifurcation would decrease time to complete block compared with a block proximal to the bifurcation.

Methods: Seventy-six patients undergoing foot or ankle surgery received a sciatic nerve block either proximal or distal to the point of bifurcation. A mixture of 28 mL 1.5% mepivacaine with 100 microg clonidine and 1 mL 8.4% sodium bicarbonate for a total of 30 mL was used. Ultrasound was used to guide needle adjustments to achieve circumferential spread. Block success was defined as a loss of sensation to pinprick in both nerve distributions within 46 minutes.

Results: Patients in the tibial-peroneal group had significantly faster time to complete block than the sciatic group (19.2 vs 26.1 minutes; P = 0.006).

Conclusions: Blocking the tibial and common peroneal nerves in the popliteal fossa separately provides for a faster onset than a prebifurcation sciatic block.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics / administration & dosage
  • Anesthetics, Local / administration & dosage
  • Clonidine / administration & dosage
  • Female
  • Foot / surgery
  • Humans
  • Injections
  • Male
  • Mepivacaine / administration & dosage
  • Middle Aged
  • Nerve Block / methods*
  • Peroneal Nerve* / diagnostic imaging
  • Sciatic Nerve* / diagnostic imaging
  • Sensation
  • Tibial Nerve* / diagnostic imaging
  • Ultrasonography, Interventional*


  • Analgesics
  • Anesthetics, Local
  • Mepivacaine
  • Clonidine