Clinically unrecognized intravascular placement of epidural catheter in a child – an argument for the use of radio-opaque contrast?

Authors

  • ADAM V. SKINNER BSc (HONS) MB ChB MRCP FRCA,

    1. Department of Paediatric Anaesthesia and Pain Management, Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne, Vic., Australia
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  • GEORGE A. CHALKIADIS MB BS DA FANZCA FFPMANZCA

    1. Department of Paediatric Anaesthesia and Pain Management, Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne, Vic., Australia
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Adam V. Skinner, Department of Paediatric Anaesthesia, Royal Children's Hospital, Flemington Road, Parkville, Victoria 3052, Australia (email: adamskin@btopenworld.com).

Summary

An epidural catheter was inserted after induction of anesthesia in a 28.2 kg 9-year-old boy scheduled to undergo bilateral femoral varus derotational osteotomies. There was no gravity free flow of blood down the catheter and there was no blood aspirated with a 2 ml syringe. After a negative test dose of a 4 ml solution of 0.25% levobupivacaine with epinephrine 1 : 200 000, a further 8 ml was administered via the epidural catheter. No significant increase in heart rate was noted. On surgical skin incision the heart rate increased from 94 to 116 b·min−1 and blood pressure increased from 104/44 to 116/46 mmHg. A further 3 ml 0.25% levobupivacaine with epinephrine and clonidine 2 μg·kg−1 were administered via the epidural catheter. The operation continued uneventfully although it was noted that the heart rate increased intermittently during the procedure. In view of the unexplained tachycardia and a history of cerebral palsy with the potential for postoperative muscle spasms, it was felt important to have a reliable epidural. To confirm placement, 2 ml of Isovue 300 (Iopamidol) was administered via the epidural catheter. X-ray screening demonstrated intravascular placement and the rapid disappearance of contrast. The catheter was removed and reinserted. Contrast demonstrated good spread in the epidural space. The merits of screening with contrast for epidural catheter placement in children are discussed.

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