12 Blocks at the Knee



10.1055/b-0035-124654

12 Blocks at the Knee



12.1 Anatomical Overview


The sciatic nerve (L4–S3) consists of two components, the common fibular nerve (synonym: common peroneal nerve) and the tibial nerve, which are surrounded in the lesser pelvis and thigh by a common connective-tissue sheath and therefore give the impression of a single nerve trunk. The level at which the division into the two branches can take place varies. The common connective-tissue sheath ends at the latest on entry to the popliteal fossa and the nerve divides into the tibial nerve and the common fibular nerve (Fig. 12.1).

Fig. 12.1 The sciatic nerve, which often divides very proximally into the tibial nerve and common fibular nerve, leaves the common sheath that surrounds the two divisions at the latest on entering the popliteal fossa (about 8–10 cm above the popliteal crease), and the tibial nerve and common fibular nerves separate here. In order to block both divisions of the sciatic nerve in the region of the popliteal fossa with one injection, this must be performed at least 8 to 10 cm above the popliteal crease. A continuous technique can also be performed here without difficulty. A complete block distal to the knee requires an additional block of the saphenous nerve, a main branch of the femoral nerve that provides sensory innervation of the medial lower leg. 1 Semitendinosus muscle 2 Semimembranosus muscle 3 Tibial nerve 4 Popliteal artery 5 Sciatic nerve (covered by muscle) 6 Biceps femoris muscle 7 Common fibular nerve

Common fibular nerve.


The common fibular nerve (L4–S2) divides below the popliteal fossa into the deep fibular nerve and the superficial fibular nerve. The deep fibular nerve innervates the extensor muscles of the lower leg and foot. The superficial fibular nerve supplies the muscles of the fibular group. The tibial nerve (L4–S3) is responsible for the motor supply of the toe and foot flexors.


Tibial nerve.


The tibial nerve innervates the skin of the lateral lower leg and the sole of the foot and, after joining the communicating branch of the fibular nerve to form the sural nerve, it supplies the lateral border of the heel and foot. The dorsum of the foot is innervated by the superficial fibular nerve, apart from the area between the great toe and second toe (deep fibular nerve).



12.2 Classical Popliteal Block, Posterior Approach



12.2.1 Technique



Landmarks and Position

Popliteal fossa, popliteal crease.


The patient lies prone. With the knee extended, puncture is performed at the level of the popliteal crease or slightly cranial to it (Fig. 12.2). The tibial nerve is found about 1 cm lateral to the artery. It is situated at a depth of 1 to 3 cm. To block the common fibular nerve from the same insertion site, the needle is withdrawn under the skin and advanced again further laterally toward the head of the fibula. After around 3 to 4 cm a response will be obtained from the nerve.

Fig. 12.2 Popliteal block (classical technique). The classical “popliteal block” is performed in the popliteal crease where the tibial nerve and fibular nerve are already separated, so that the two nerves may have to be found and blocked individually to obtain a complete block of the lower leg (see Chapter 12.3.5). Right popliteal fossa, posteromedial view. 1 Popliteal artery


12.2.2 Remarks on the Technique



Definition


Anesthesia of the sciatic nerve or of its two divisions (fibular nerve and tibial nerve) in the region of the popliteal fossa, known as popliteal block or “knee block,” has often been described. It is a highly effective technique and is easily performed without problems.


Disadvantage.


The disadvantage of the classical popliteal block in the popliteal fossa or slightly more cranial is the necessity of finding two nerves separately in order to be able to anesthetize the entire foot. The fibular and tibial nerves can be separately blocked in the popliteal fossa or somewhat proximal to it from one puncture site because of the close vicinity of the two nerves. This requires a change in the direction of the needle for selective stimulation of the two nerves.


Double injection technique.


The double injection technique should be a quick procedure, as the risk of intraneural injection increases with the time required (Gligorijevic 2000).



Practical Note


Administration of the local anesthetic after finding the first nerve can result in partial anesthesia of the second nerve, even before it has been localized, because of its proximity. This prevents both an adequate response by the nerve stimulator and the patient′s warning of paresthesia due to inadvertent intraneural injection of the local anesthetic.


The double injection technique leads to a short onset period and an effective block (Bailey et al 1994). Singelyn et al (1991) performed 625 blocks with nerve stimulation in a prospective study; 30 mL of mepivacaine 1% (10 mg/mL) or bupivacaine 0.5% (5 mg/mL) was injected. An adequate block was achieved in 92% of the patients and in another 5% the block was successfully supplemented. The popliteal artery was punctured in two patients (0.3%). Patient satisfaction was 95%. Popliteal block is considered to be a safe technique (Jan et al 2000). An out-of-plane ultrasound-guided puncture a few centimeters distal to the bifurcation has shown that one injection between the two nerves (tibial nerve, common fibular nerve) leads to a fast, reliable block (Perlas et al 2013, Chapter 12.3.5) so that it is not absolutely necessary to block the two nerves separately in this region.



12.3 Distal Block of the Sciatic Nerve



12.3.1 Technique



Posterior Approach, Continuous Technique According to Meier (Meier 1996)

The sciatic nerve divides, at the latest where it enters the popliteal fossa, into its two main branches, the tibial nerve and the common fibular nerve. The common fascial sheath can no longer be found in the popliteal fossa. For reasons of efficacy, this suggests that the sciatic nerve should be found and anesthetized as far cranially as possible in the popliteal fossa, that is, before it divides—in other words, a distal sciatic nerve block should be performed (Fig. 12.3).

Fig. 12.3 Popliteal fossa. a Boundaries of a right popliteal fossa: the massive fat body that hides the tibial nerve is easily seen. 1 Inner and outer head of the gastrocnemius muscle 2 Sural nerve 3 Communicating branch of the fibular nerve 4 Fat of the popliteal fossa 5 Semitendinosus muscle 6 Biceps femoris muscle b Right popliteal fossa, view from dorsal. The sciatic nerve, which often divides very proximally into the tibial nerve and common fibular nerve, leaves the common sheath that surrounds the two divisions at the latest on entering the popliteal fossa (about 8–10 cm above the popliteal crease), and the tibial nerve and common fibular nerves separate here. In order to block both divisions of the sciatic nerve in the region of the popliteal fossa with one injection, this must be performed at least 8 to 10 cm above the popliteal crease. A continuous technique can also be performed here without difficulty. 1 Tibial nerve 2 Semimembranosus muscle 3 Semitendinosus muscle 4 Sciatic nerve 5 Biceps femoris muscle 6 Common fibular nerve


Landmarks

Above the popliteal crease, the popliteal fossa is bounded laterally by the tendon of biceps femoris, and medially by the semimembranosus and the tendon of semitendinosus. The needle is inserted at the lateral boundary of the popliteal fossa (corresponding to the inside of the biceps femoris tendon) about 8 to 12 cm above the popliteal crease (Fig. 12.4, Fig. 12.5, Fig. 12.6).

Fig. 12.4 Cross-section through the right thigh at the level of insertion (here 9 cm above the popliteal crease) for distal sciatic nerve block, and MRI at the same level in prone position. The plane through the right thigh is seen from below. 1 Biceps femoris muscle 2 Semimembranosus/semitendinosus muscle 3 Sciatic nerve 3a Fibular nerve 3b Tibial nerve 4 Popliteal artery 5 Plane (view from caudal)
Fig. 12.5 Distal sciatic nerve block, distal approach in lateral position: there is a posterior and a lateral approach to distal sciatic nerve block. The posterior approach can be performed in the lateral or supine position (see Fig. 12.7). The tendon of the biceps femoris is used for orientation. A skin groove can often be identified medial to the tendon, and for better orientation the patient can be asked to flex the lower leg against resistance, which makes the tendon more prominent. 1 Popliteal crease
Fig. 12.6 Distal sciatic nerve block. a Performance in supine position. b In this child with extensor deficits, the lateral position is ideal. However, the supine position is usually preferred.


Position

The patient lies on his or her side with the leg to be anesthetized on top. The lower leg is flexed at the knee; the upper leg is loosely extended (Fig. 12.5).


Variation of position, preferred position.


The patient lies supine, the leg to be anesthetized is lifted and flexed at the hip and knee, also known as the “lithotomy” position, Fig. 12.7.

Fig. 12.7 Posterior distal sciatic nerve block in supine position.


Procedure

The patient is asked to flex the knee. The tendon of the biceps femoris can be readily palpated on the lateral side. The leg is then extended. A line is drawn about 8 to 12 cm proximal and parallel to the popliteal crease. The intersection with the tendon of the biceps femoris marks the insertion site (Fig. 12.6). The insertion site is medial to the tendon of the biceps femoris and lateral to the popliteal vessels (Meier 1996; Fig. 12.8).

Fig. 12.8 Right popliteal fossa, posterior view. 1 Biceps femoris muscle 2 Tibial division of the sciatic nerve 3 Fibular division of the sciatic nerve 4 Semitendinosus muscle 5 Popliteal artery 6 Semimembranosus muscle a Posterior distal sciatic nerve block: the insertion site is medial to the tendon of biceps femoris and lateral to the popliteal vessels. b Clinical setting.

Following disinfection, infiltration, and prepuncture of the skin at the insertion site, a 6 to 10 cm long 19.5G needle is connected to a nerve stimulator and advanced proximally and slightly medially at an angle of 30 to 45° to the skin. When the fascia is reached, obvious resistance (“click”) can often be felt.


The sciatic nerve or its divisions are reached after 4 to 6 cm. In obese patients, the distance may be greater than 6 cm. Because of the laterally situated insertion site, the common fibular nerve is usually reached first and then the tibial nerve when the needle is advanced deeper and further medially.



Note


The position of the needle tip is optimal when pronation of the foot with dorsiflexion (fibular division) or a motor response of the tibial nerve (supination of the foot with plantar flexion) can be produced.


Both responses can often be produced by a minimal shift of the needle tip. Then 30 to 40 mL of local anesthetic is injected.


Supine position.


Alternatively, the distal sciatic nerve block can be performed in supine position (with the leg supported with a positioning aid). The patient then does not need to be turned to their side. In the continuous technique, after the local anesthetic is injected the catheter is advanced proximally by the needle 3 cm beyond its tip.



Tips and Tricks




  • If the tibial nerve is stimulated first, the position of the needle tip should be directed more laterally in order to reach the fibular nerve.



  • Vascular puncture is not anticipated with this technique of distal sciatic nerve block (Fig. 12.9).



  • The catheter should not be advanced more than 3 cm past the tip of the needle.



  • A frequently observed long onset time is possibly caused by fat tissue in the popliteal fossa.

Fig. 12.9 MRI of right thigh in lateral position, 9 cm above the popliteal crease (seen from below). As the nerve is reached first with the described needle direction, vascular puncture is normally excluded. Image a: 1 Plane for MRI (12 cm above the popliteal crease) Image b: 1 Biceps femoris muscle 2 Semimembranosus/semitendinosus muscle 3 Sciatic nerve 4 Popliteal artery

Jun 8, 2020 | Posted by in ANESTHESIA | Comments Off on 12 Blocks at the Knee
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