Last updated March 15, 2022

Prevention of Perioperative Peripheral Neuropathies

Summary of Advisory Recommendations

Preoperative History and Physical Assessment

Review a patient’s preoperative history and perform a physical examination to identify: body habitus, preexisting neurologic symptoms, diabetes mellitus, peripheral vascular disease, alcohol dependency, arthritis, and sex (e.g., male sex and its association with ulnar neuropathy). When judged appropriate, ascertain whether patients can comfortably tolerate the anticipated operative position.
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Positioning Strategies for the Upper Extremities

Positioning Strategies to Reduce Perioperative Brachial Plexus Neuropathy

When possible, limit arm abduction in a supine patient to 90°.
  • The prone position may allow patients to comfortably tolerate abduction of their arms to greater than 90°.
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Positioning Strategies to Reduce Perioperative Ulnar Neuropathy

Supine Patient with Arm on an Armboard: Position the upper extremity to decrease pressure on the postcondylar groove of the humerus (ulnar groove).
  • Use of either supination or the neutral forearm positions may be used to facilitate this action.
Supine Patient with Arms Tucked at Side: Place the forearm in a neutral position. Flexion of the Elbow: When possible, avoid flexion of the elbow to decrease the risk of ulnar neuropathy.
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Positioning Strategies to Reduce Perioperative Radial Neuropathy

Avoid prolonged pressure on the radial nerve in the spiral groove of the humerus.
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Positioning Strategies to Reduce Perioperative Median Neuropathy

Avoid extension of the elbow beyond the range that is comfortable during the preoperative assessment to prevent stretching of the median nerve.
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Periodic Assessment of Upper Extremity Position during Procedures

Periodic perioperative assessments may be performed to ensure maintenance of the desired position.
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Positioning Strategies for the Lower Extremities

Positioning Strategies to Reduce Perioperative Sciatic Neuropathy

Stretching of the Hamstring Muscle Group: Positions that stretch the hamstring muscle group beyond the range that is comfortable during the preoperative assessment may be avoided to prevent stretching of the sciatic nerve Limiting Hip Flexion: Since the sciatic nerve or its branches cross both the hip and the knee joints, assess extension and flexion of these joints when determining the degree of hip flexion.
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Positioning Strategies to Reduce Perioperative Femoral Neuropathy

When possible, avoid extension or flexion of the hip to decrease the risk of femoral neuropathy.
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Positioning Strategies to Reduce Perioperative Peroneal Neuropathy

Avoid prolonged pressure on the peroneal nerve at the fibular head.
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Protective Padding

Padded armboards may be used to decrease the risk of upper extremity neuropathy. Chest rolls in the laterally positioned patient may be used to decrease the risk of upper extremity neuropathy. Padding at the elbow may be used to decrease the risk of upper extremity neuropathy. Specific padding to prevent pressure of a hard surface against the peroneal nerve at the fibular head may be used to decrease the risk of peroneal neuropathy. Avoid the inappropriate use of padding (e.g., padding too tight) to decrease the risk of perioperative neuropathy.
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Equipment

When possible, avoid the improper use of automated blood pressure cuffs on the arm (i.e., placed below the antecubital fossa) to reduce the risk of upper extremity neuropathy. When possible, avoid the use of shoulder braces in a steep head-down position to decrease the risk of perioperative neuropathies.
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Postoperative Physical Assessment

Perform a simple postoperative assessment of extremity nerve function for early recognition of peripheral neuropathies.
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Documentation

Document specific perioperative positioning actions that may be useful for continuous improvement processes.
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Recommendation Grading

Overview

Title

Prevention of Perioperative Peripheral Neuropathies

Authoring Organization

Publication Month/Year

January 1, 2018

Document Type

Guideline

External Publication Status

Published

Country of Publication

US

Document Objectives

Educate ASA members, provide a reference framework for individual practices, and stimulate the pursuit and evaluation of strategies that may prevent or reduce the frequency of occurrence or minimize the severity of peripheral neuropathies that may be related to perioperative positioning of patients.

Target Patient Population

Adult patients who are or have been sedated or anesthetized

Target Provider Population

Anesthesiologists

Inclusion Criteria

Female, Male, Adult, Older adult

Health Care Settings

Ambulatory, Emergency care, Hospital, Operating and recovery room, Outpatient

Intended Users

Medical assistant, nurse, nurse practitioner, physician, physician assistant

Scope

Counseling, Prevention, Management

Diseases/Conditions (MeSH)

D009477 - Hereditary Sensory and Autonomic Neuropathies

Keywords

Anesthesiology, Perioperative Peripheral Neuropathies, Neuropathies

Source Citation

Practice Advisory for the Prevention of Perioperative Peripheral Neuropathies 2018: An Updated Report by the American Society of Anesthesiologists Task Force on Prevention of Perioperative Peripheral Neuropathies*. Anesthesiology 2018;128(1):11-26. 

Methodology

Number of Source Documents
77
Literature Search Start Date
January 1, 1999
Literature Search End Date
July 31, 2017