Continuous cervical epidural block: Treatment for intractable hiccups

Medicine (Baltimore). 2018 Feb;97(6):e9444. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000009444.


Intractable hiccups, although rare, may result in severe morbidity, including sleep deprivation, poor food intake, respiratory muscle fatigue, aspiration pneumonia, and death. Despite these potentially fatal complications, the etiology of intractable hiccups and definitive treatment are unknown. This study aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of continuous cervical epidural block in the treatment of intractable hiccups.Records from 28 patients with a history of unsuccessful medical and invasive treatments for hiccups were evaluated. Continuous cervical epidural block was performed with a midline approach at the C7-T1 or T1-T2 intervertebral space with the patient in the prone position. The epidural catheter was advanced through the needle in a cephalad direction to the C3-C5 level. Catheter placement was confirmed using contrast radiography. A 6-mL bolus of 0.25% ropivacaine was injected, and a continuous infusion of 4 mL/h of ropivacaine was administered through the epidural catheter using an infuser containing 0.75% ropivacaine (45 mL ropivacaine and 230 mL normal saline). When the hiccups stopped and did not recur for 48 hours, the catheter was removed.Cumulative complete remission rates were 60.71% after the first cervical epidural block, 92.86% after the second, and 100% after the third. One patient complained of dizziness that subsided. No other adverse effects were reported.Continuous C3-C5 level cervical epidural block has a successful remission rate. We suggest that continuous cervical epidural block is an effective treatment for intractable hiccups.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Amides / administration & dosage*
  • Anesthetics, Local / administration & dosage
  • Autonomic Nerve Block* / adverse effects
  • Autonomic Nerve Block* / methods
  • Catheterization / methods
  • Cervical Cord / drug effects
  • Cervical Cord / physiopathology
  • Dizziness / etiology
  • Female
  • Hiccup* / diagnosis
  • Hiccup* / physiopathology
  • Hiccup* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Injections, Epidural / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Recurrence
  • Remission Induction / methods
  • Republic of Korea
  • Ropivacaine
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Amides
  • Anesthetics, Local
  • Ropivacaine