Brain stem anesthesia after retrobulbar block

Ophthalmology. 1987 Jun;94(6):718-24. doi: 10.1016/s0161-6420(87)33389-5.


Presented is a series of eight patients in whom neurologic sequelae developed after retrobulbar anesthesia. All patients demonstrated blockade of one or more cranial nerves and six progressed to apnea, requiring intubation and mechanical ventilation. Neurologic findings included amaurosis in the contralateral eye (5 patients), nonreactive pupil in the contralateral eye (6 patients), ductional defects (2 patients), and dysphagia (4 patients). In all cases, these findings resolved in 2 to 12 hours. In patients who progressed to apnea, spontaneous respiration resumed within 30 to 60 minutes. These findings are particularly significant in light of recent decisions to reduce anesthesia coverage for cataract surgery in some regions.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anesthesia*
  • Apnea / etiology
  • Apnea / therapy
  • Brain Stem*
  • Deglutition Disorders / etiology
  • Eye / innervation*
  • Eye Diseases / etiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nerve Block / adverse effects*
  • Respiration, Artificial