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Saddle block anesthetic technique for benign outpatient anorectal surgery. Surgery 2022 Mar;171(3):615-620



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BACKGROUND: Current American Society of Colorectal Surgery Clinical Practice Guidelines for Ambulatory Anorectal Surgery endorse use of monitored anesthesia care, general anesthesia, or spinal anesthesia based on physician and patient preference. Although several studies support the use of monitored anesthesia care over general anesthesia, the literature regarding spinal anesthesia is limited and heterogenous due to small sample sizes and disparate spinal anesthesia techniques. Saddle block anesthesia is a form of spinal anesthesia that localizes to the lowermost sacral spinal segments allowing for preservation of lower extremity motor function and faster recovery. We accrued one of the largest reported cohort of anorectal procedures using saddle block anesthesia, as such, we sought to evaluate our institutional 12-year experience.

METHODS: Patients who underwent a benign anorectal procedure at our outpatient surgery center between July 2008-2020 were retrospectively reviewed. Demographics, surgical factors, perioperative times, and adverse events were collected from the electronic medical records. Saddle block anesthesia was generally performed in the preoperative area using a spinal needle (25-27 gauge) and a single injection technique of a 1:1 ratio local anesthetic mixed with 10% dextrose solution. Between 2.5-5 mg of hyperbaric anesthetic was injected intrathecally in the sitting position and the patient remained upright for 3-10 minutes. This technique of saddle block anesthesia provides analgesia for approximately 1-3 hours.

RESULTS: In the study, 859 saddle block anesthesia patients were identified, with a mean age of 44.6 years and American Society of Anesthesia score of 1.9; 609 (70.9%) were male. Surgical indications included lesion removal (27.1%), anal fistula (25.8%), hemorrhoidectomy (24.7%), pilonidal disease (6.3%), anal fissure (5.8%), and a combination of prior (10.2%). Prone jackknife positioning was used in 91.6% of procedures. Saddle block anesthesia most often was performed with bupivacaine (48.9%) or ropivacaine (41.7%). The median procedural saddle block anesthesia time was 11 minutes, surgery time was 17 minutes, anesthesia time was 42 minutes, and recovery time was 91 minutes. Patients spent a median of 3 hours and 53 minutes in the facility. Adverse events included urinary retention (1.9%), conversion to general anesthesia (1.8%), spinal headache (1.5%), hemodynamic instability (0.9%), and injection site reaction (0.3%).

CONCLUSION: Demonstrated using the largest known cohort of anorectal patients with saddle block anesthesia, saddle block anesthesia provides an effective method of analgesia to avoid general anesthesia with a low rate of adverse events.

Author List

Peterson KJ, Dyrud P, Johnson C, Blank JJ, Eastwood DC, Butterfield GE, Stekiel TA, Peterson CY, Ludwig KA, Ridolfi TJ


Gail E. Butterfield MD Assistant Professor in the Anesthesiology department at Medical College of Wisconsin
Kirk A. Ludwig MD Chief, Professor in the Surgery department at Medical College of Wisconsin
Carrie Peterson MD, MS, FACS, FASCRS Associate Professor in the Surgery department at Medical College of Wisconsin
Timothy J. Ridolfi MD Associate Professor in the Surgery department at Medical College of Wisconsin

MESH terms used to index this publication - Major topics in bold

Ambulatory Surgical Procedures
Anesthesia, Spinal
Anesthetics, Local
Middle Aged
Operative Time
Patient Positioning
Rectal Diseases
Retrospective Studies