Intravenous regional sympathetic blockade for pain relief in reflex sympathetic dystrophy: a systematic review and a randomized, double-blind crossover study

J Pain Symptom Manage. 1995 Jan;10(1):13-20. doi: 10.1016/0885-3924(94)00064-R.


The first aim was a systematic review of intravenous regional sympathetic blocks (IRSBs) in patients with reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD). Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of IRSBs in patients with RSD were identified by MEDLINE search (1966 to May 1993) and by hand search of 30 journals (1950 to May 1993). Authors of eligible trials were asked for information on additional trials and for unpublished data. Seven RCTs of IRSBs in RSD were found. Four used guanethidine; none showed significant analgesic effect in IRSBs to relieve pain due to RSD. Two reports, one using ketanserin and one bretylium, with 17 patients in total, showed some advantage of IRSBs over control. RCT results were not combined because of the variety of different drugs and outcome measures and because of methodological deficiencies in most of the reports. The second aim was a randomized, double-blind, crossover study to assess the effectiveness of IRSBs with guanethidine. Patients fulfilling diagnostic criteria for RSD and who had reported pain relief after an open IRSB with guanethidine received IRSBs with guanethidine high dose, guanethidine low dose, and normal saline. Pain intensity and relief, adverse effects, mood, duration of analgesia, and global scores were recorded. Sixteen patients with diagnosis of RSD were recruited, but only nine entered the double-blind phase. The trial was stopped prematurely because of the severity of the adverse effects. No significant difference was found between guanethidine and placebo on any of the outcome measures.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Autonomic Nerve Block*
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Injections, Intravenous
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Palliative Care*
  • Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy / therapy*