Background: Respiratory distress is a rare complication of outpatient shoulder arthroscopy and mostly associated with general anesthesia, pneumothorax, anaphylaxis, or phrenic nerve paralysis. Objective: We report on a shoulder arthroscopy complicated by tracheal compression caused by extravasation of irrigation fluid into soft tissues of the upper airway while the patient was in the beach-chair position under general anesthesia. Case Summary: A 33-year-old male was scheduled for shoulder arthroscopy for impingement syndrome of the right shoulder under general anesthesia combined with interscalene brachial plexus block. During the operation, the patient's neck, right chest, and shoulder were observed to be swollen and tense on palpation. A fiberoptic bronchoscopic evaluation through the endotracheal tube revealed that the trachea was compressed to the left, but not completely obstructed. It was determined that the irrigation fluid had leaked subcutaneously from the shoulder joint to the neck. Vital signs were stable and the patient could be adequately ventilated despite the airway obstruction. The patient was transferred to the ward 16 hours after the operation with stable vital signs and discharged from the hospital on the second day. Conclusions: We report a case of airway obstruction due to tracheal compression from extravasation of irrigation fluid during shoulder arthroscopy under general anesthesia combined with peripheral nerve block in the beach-chair position. General anesthesia with endotracheal intubation protected the patient from a possibly fatal complication.
Current Therapeutic Research – Elsevier
Published: Dec 1, 2010
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