Anesthesiologists and hospitals are increasingly confronted with costs associated with the complications of Peripheral Nerve Blocks (PNB) procedures. The objective of our study was to identify the incidence of the main adverse events associated with regional anesthesia, particularly during anesthetic PNB, and to evaluate the associated healthcare- and social costs.
According to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines, we conducted a systematic search on EMBASE and PubMed with the following search strategy: (“regional anesthesia” OR “nerve block”) AND (“complications” OR “nerve lesion” OR “nerve damage” OR “nerve injury”). Studies on patients undergoing a regional anesthesia procedure other than spinal or epidural were included. Targeted data of the selected studies were extracted and further analyzed.
Literature search revealed 487 articles, 21 of which met the criteria to be included in our analysis. Ten of them were included in the qualitative and 11 articles in the quantitative synthesis. The analysis of costs included data from four studies and 2,034 claims over 51,242 cases. The median claim consisted in 39,524 dollars in the United States and 22,750 pounds in the United Kingdom. The analysis of incidence included data from seven studies involving 424,169 patients with an overall estimated incidence of 137/10,000.
Despite limitations, we proposed a simple model of cost calculation. We found that, despite the relatively low incidence of adverse events following PNB, their associated costs were relevant and should be carefully considered by healthcare managers and decision makers.

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