Perfusion index for early identification of regional anesthesia effectiveness: a narrative review

Minerva Anestesiol. 2023 Feb 17. doi: 10.23736/S0375-9393.23.17065-9. Online ahead of print.


Regional anesthesia (RA) is a common and irreplaceable technique in clinical, which can be used in different surgery sites and control of acute and chronic pain, especially for outpatients, pediatrics and the elderly. RA demands are increasing during COVID-19 pandemic because many surgeries could be performed under RA to reduce the risk of cross-infection between patients and health care workers. Early and accurate identification of the effects of RA can help physicians make timely decisions about whether to supplement analgesics or switch to general anesthesia, which will save time and improve patient satisfaction in a busy operating room. Perfusion index (PI) is a parameter derived from photoplethysmography (PPG) and represents the ratio of pulsatile and non-pulsatile blood flow at monitoring sites. It reflects local perfusion and is mainly affected by stroke volume and vascular tone. With characteristics of non-invasive, rapid, simple, and objective, PI is widely used in clinical practice, such as fluid responsiveness prediction, nociceptive assessment, etc. Recently, many studies have assessed the accuracy of PI in early prediction of RA success, including brachial plexus block, sciatic nerve block, neuraxial anesthesia, paravertebral block, caudal block and stellate ganglion block. Successful RA often parallels increased PI. In this narrative review, we describe the principles and influencing factors of PI, and introduce the effects of PI on early identification of RA effectiveness.