An effective treatment in the austere environment? A critical appraisal into the use of intra-articular local anesthetic to facilitate reduction in acute shoulder dislocation

Acute shoulder dislocation is a common injury in the outdoor environment. The objective of this systematic review of the literature was to determine if intra-articular local anesthetic (IAL) is an effective treatment that could have prehospital application. A methodical search of MEDLINE, PubMed, and EMBASE databases targeted publications from January 1, 1990 until January 1, 2017. Eligible articles compared IAL with other analgesic techniques in patients 16 years or older experiencing acute glenohumeral dislocation. Reduction success, complications, and patient-reported outcome measures underwent comparison. All identified publications originated from the hospital setting. Procedural success rates ranged widely among randomized control trials comparing IAL with intravenous analgesia and sedation (IAL 48–100%, intravenous analgesia and sedation 44–100%). A pooled risk ratio [RR] favored intravenous analgesia and sedation (RR 0.91, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.84–0.98), but there was significant inconsistency within the analysis (I2 = 75%). IAL provided lower complication rates (4/170, 2%) than intravenous analgesia and sedation (20/150, 13%) (RR 1.11, 95% CI 1.04–1.19, I2 = 63%). One trial found a clinically relevant reduction in visual analogue pain scores when comparing IAL against no additional analgesia in the first minute (IAL 21±13 mm; control 49±15 mm; P<0.001) and fifth minute (IAL 10±10 mm; control 40±14 mm, P<0.001) after reduction. The results suggest that IAL is an effective intervention for acute anterior shoulder dislocation that would have a place in the repertoire of the remote physician. Further research might be beneficial in determining the outcomes of performing IAL in the prehospital setting.


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Authors: Gould, Fraser John

1 March, 2018
Wilderness & Environmental Medicine / 29
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