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The aim of this prospective, randomized, double-blind study was to evaluate the effect of the addition of tramadol to ropivacaine on the onset and duration of sensory and motor block, and duration of analgesia, for axillary brachial plexus block.After institutional approval and informed consent had been obtained, 45 patients scheduled for forearm or hand surgery under axillary brachial plexus block were randomly allocated into two groups. The ropivacaine group received 40 ml of ropivacaine 7.5 mg/ml plus 2 ml of isotonic sodium chloride solution, and the tramadol group received 40 ml of ropivacaine 7.5 mg/ml plus 2 ml (100 mg) of tramadol. The onset and duration of sensory and motor block in the distribution of the musculocutaneous, radial, median and ulnar nerves, the duration of analgesia, the time to first pain medication, hemodynamics and side-effects were recorded.The addition of tramadol did not improve the speed of onset or increase the duration of sensory and motor block. The durations of analgesia were 631 ± 33 min and 633 ± 37 min (mean ± standard deviation) in the ropivacaine and tramadol groups, respectively (P > 0.05). Hemodynamic parameters and side-effects did not differ between the groups.The addition of 100 mg of tramadol to 7.5 mg/ml of ropivacaine, for axillary brachial plexus block, does not prolong the duration of motor and sensory block and analgesia.