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Year : 2017  |  Volume : 11  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 519-520

Retroclavicular approach of brachial plexus block: Here to stay!!!

Department of Anesthesiology, AIIMS, Patna, Bihar, India

Correspondence Address:
Chandni Sinha
AIIMS, Patna, Bihar
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/sja.SJA_355_17

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Date of Web Publication22-Sep-2017

How to cite this article:
Sinha C, Kumar A, Singh AK, Bhadani UK. Retroclavicular approach of brachial plexus block: Here to stay!!!. Saudi J Anaesth 2017;11:519-20

How to cite this URL:
Sinha C, Kumar A, Singh AK, Bhadani UK. Retroclavicular approach of brachial plexus block: Here to stay!!!. Saudi J Anaesth [serial online] 2017 [cited 2023 Mar 23];11:519-20. Available from:


Several techniques of infraclavicular brachial plexus nerve block (ICB) have been described in literature: stressing on various surface landmarks, site of needle insertion, and needle direction.[1]

Classical infraclavicular approach was the first one to be described followed by the retroclavicular approach. The retroclavicular approach offers the advantage of better needle visibility, lesser chances of vascular puncture and more patient comfort.[2] In this approach the linear transducer is placed vertically below the clavicle, lateral to the midclavicular line. The needle is inserted above and posterior to the clavicle in a caudad direction.

Lately, a horizontal approach (Japanese) or the costoclavicular approach has been described.[3],[4],[5] The linear transducer is placed parallel and inferior to the clavicle and lateral to the midclavicular line. The transducer is moved from distal to proximal position, so as to visualize the cords clustered lateral and superficial to the first part of the axillary artery. An insulated needle is inserted lateral to medial in plane to the transducer. All three cords are blocked by a single local anesthetic injection. As the pleura is superficial in this location, the risk of pneumothorax is present. However, constant visualization of the needle trajectory obviates this risk.

Although this technique is simple and handy, in our experience, retroclavicular technique is still of benefit over the horizontal approach in the following cases:

  1. Patients with deep deltopectoral groove wherein a prominent humerus hinders with the needling
  2. Patients with altered anatomy where the brachial plexus is located more laterally than usual position
  3. Also in patients with acute trauma where abduction of the upper limb will not be comfortable for the patient.

Hence, though newer approaches have been described, the retroclavicular approach still offers few advantages over horizontal approach. Furthermore, if we rotate the transducer slightly vertically in the horizontal approach and enter our needle cephalad to caudad above the clavicle (retroclavically), it can solve our problem. [Figure 1] Hence, we suggest that more randomized trials are required to establish the benefit of costoclavicular approach of ICB.
Figure 1: Retroclavicular block at the proximal level

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  References Top

Kilka HG, Geiger P, Mehrkens HH. Infraclavicular vertical brachial plexus blockade. A new method for anesthesia of the upper extremity. An anatomical and clinical study. Anaesthesist 1995;44:339-44.  Back to cited text no. 1
Kavrut Ozturk N, Kavakli AS. Comparison of the coracoid and retroclavicular approaches for ultrasound-guided infraclavicular brachial plexus block. J Anesth 2017. doi: 10.1007/s00540-017-2359-6. [Epub ahead of print].  Back to cited text no. 2
Yoshida T, Watanabe Y, Furutani K. Proximal approach for ultrasound-guided infraclavicular brachial plexus block. Acta Anaesthesiol Taiwan 2016;54:31-2.  Back to cited text no. 3
Karmakar MK, Sala-Blanch X, Songthamwat B, Tsui BC. Benefits of the costoclavicular space for ultrasound-guided infraclavicular brachial plexus block: Description of a costoclavicular approach. Reg Anesth Pain Med 2015;40:287-8.  Back to cited text no. 4
Li JW, Songthamwat B, Samy W, Sala-Blanch X, Karmakar MK. Ultrasound-guided costoclavicular brachial plexus block: Sonoanatomy, technique, and block dynamics. Reg Anesth Pain Med 2017;42:233-40.  Back to cited text no. 5


  [Figure 1]


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