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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 14  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 128-129

Ensuring safe journey of QL catheter: Problem rectified!

1 Department of Anaesthesiology, Sancheti Hospital, Pune, Maharashtra, India
2 Department of Anaesthesiology, Dr. Hedgewar Hospital, Aurangabad, Maharashtra, India
3 Department of Surgery, Dr. Hedgewar Hospital, Aurangabad, Maharashtra, India
4 Department of Anaesthesiology, Basavatarakam Indo-American Cancer Hospital and Research Institute, Hyderabad, Telangana, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Sandeep Diwan
Department of Anaesthesiology, Sancheti Hospital, Pune - 411 005, Maharashtra
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/sja.SJA_480_19

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Date of Submission30-Jul-2019
Date of Acceptance31-Jul-2019
Date of Web Publication6-Jan-2020

How to cite this article:
Diwan S, Kulkarni M, Kulkarni N, Nair A. Ensuring safe journey of QL catheter: Problem rectified!. Saudi J Anaesth 2020;14:128-9

How to cite this URL:
Diwan S, Kulkarni M, Kulkarni N, Nair A. Ensuring safe journey of QL catheter: Problem rectified!. Saudi J Anaesth [serial online] 2020 [cited 2021 Jul 31];14:128-9. Available from:

To the Editor,

Course of a catheter placed in quadratus lumborum plane (QLP) after an ultrasound (US)-guided transmuscular quadratus lumborum block (TMQLB) is not always predictable.[1] The catheters either gets coiled or penetrates the anterior thoracolumbar fascia (ATLF). The ATLF is a very tight fascia and offers a very high resistance. Moreover, the compliance of QLP space is low. We noticed that the catheter buckles, coils, or penetrates with the bevel perpendicular to the ATLF. To overcome this situation, we conducted a pilot study in five American Society of Anesthesiologists-physical status (ASA-PS) I--II undergoing open nephrolithotomy.

Standard general anesthesia was administered in all five patients: 0.03 mg midazolam, 1.5 μg fentanyl, and 2--2.5 mg propofol, intravenously (IV). Tracheal intubation was done after achieving neuromuscular blockade with 1 mg/kg atracurium IV. In the lateral position with Shamrock technique, the quadratus lumborum (QLM), Psoas Major (PMm), and erector spinae (ESM) muscles were identified. Under strict asepsis (chlorhexidine solution and sterile draping), an 18 G Tuohy needle was inserted under US guidance using a curvilinear probe with an in plane approach. The bevel of the needle was kept upward and perpendicular to the QLM fibers [Figure 1]a. The bevel was then rotated to 90° from its initial position with the bevel facing cephalad and parallel to the QLM fibers [Figure 1]b. After identification of tip of epidural needle in the ATLF, the space was injected with 10 ml 0.375% ropivacaine after negative aspiration. The catheter was inserted with bevel parallel to the QLM fibers. We observed that the catheter insertion was smooth without resistance, without any evidence of coiling on USG [Figure 1]c. Another 10 ml 0.375% ropivacaine was injected through the catheter and was visualized in ATLF.
Figure 1: (a) Figure shows conventional method were bevel of Tuohy needle is facing upwards. (b) Figure shows rotation of needle by 90° due to which bevel is now facing upward. (c) Figure shows showing presence of catheter in quadratus lumborum plane after an US-guided transmuscular quadratus lumborum plane block. The catheter is parallel to quadratus lumborum muscle fibers without any twists or coil

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Studies have shown that ideal location of the tip of the catheter is observed in only 40% patients. Ease of insertion and length of catheter inserted does not predict final position of the catheter.[2] Coiling, knotting of catheters are frequent problem dependant on the length of insertion of catheters.[3] Whether the coil anchors the catheter or is a predisposition to knotting is debatable. The suggested length of the catheter in the perineural sheath is 3--5 cm.[4] The placement and final destination of the catheter depends on the tightness of the sheath around the nerve or the plexus. The compliance of the femoral or interscalene sheath would be different from a fascia iliaca sheath. The compliance can differ from one fascial compartment to the other. QLP is a tight compartment with low compliance offering increased resistance as opposed to fascia iliaca compartment (FIC).

Regardless of the needle tip position on US, if the bevel facing is cephalad the catheter in high compliant FIC will take its own course. This would not be probably the same situation in low compliant high resistance QLP. The most time-consuming procedure is to determine the tip of catheter and locate the spread of local anesthetic (LA) in the compartment. US-guided non-stylleted catheters placed parallel to the nerve tend to coil, deviate, and loop after 7 cm insertion.[5]

In our series, we choose to rotate the bevel of the Tuohy needle parallel to the long axis of the QLM fibers. The catheter was positioned under the ATLF in all five cases, observed intraoperatively. The spread of the LA was also traced in the longitudinal axis, with the probe placed parallel to QLM fibers. In this axis, the catheter could be traced with the LA spilling out of it.

To conclude, we suggest that during catheter placements after TMQLB, the bevel should be rotated through 90°. This is for appropriate positioning of the needle, identifying the catheter, correct spread of the LA after a bolus and continuous infusion.

Declaration of patient consent

The authors certify that they have obtained all appropriate patient consent forms. In the form, the patient(s) has/have given his/her/their consent for his/her/their images and other clinical information to be reported in the journal. The patients understand that their names and initials will not be published and due efforts will be made to conceal their identity, but anonymity cannot be guaranteed.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Diwan S, Kulkarni M, Kulkarni N, Nair A. Journey of a quadratus lumborum plane catheter: Is it important to know? Saudi J Anaesth 2019;13:278-9.  Back to cited text no. 1
Capdevila X, Biboulet P, Moreau D, Bernard N, Deschodt J, Lopez S, et al. Continuous three-in-one block for postoperative pain control after lower limb orthopedic surgery: Where do the catheters go? Anesth Analg 2002;94:1001-6.  Back to cited text no. 2
De Tran QH, De La Cuadra-Fontaine JC, Chan SY, Kovarik G, Asenjo JF, Finlayson R. Coiling of stimulating perineural catheters. Anesthesiology 2007;106:189-90.  Back to cited text no. 3
Koscielniak-Nielsen ZJ, Rasmussen H, Hesselbjerg L. Long-axis ultrasound imaging of the nerves and advancement of perineural catheters under direct vision: A preliminary report of four cases. Reg Anest Pain Med 2008;33:477-82.  Back to cited text no. 4
Wang A, Gu L, Zhou Q, Ni W-Z, Jiaang W. Ultrasound-guided continuous femoral nerve block for analgesia after total knee arthroplasty: Catheter perpendicular to the nerve versus catheter parallel to the nerve. Reg Anesth Pain Med 2010;35:127-31.  Back to cited text no. 5


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