Intraoperative Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome: A Coincidence or Precipitation?

  • Subedi A
  • Bhattarai B
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As the prevalence of alcohol dependence is approximately half in surgical patients with an alcohol use disorder, anesthetist often encounters such patients in the perioperative settings. Alcohol withdrawal syndrome (AWS) is one of the most feared complications of alcohol dependence and can be fatal if not managed actively. A 61-year-old man, alcoholic with 50 h of abstinence before surgery, received spinal anesthesia for surgery for femoral neck fracture. To facilitate positioning for spinal anesthesia, fascia iliaca compartmental block with 0.25% bupivacaine (30 mL) was administered 30 min prior to spinal block. Later, in the intraoperative period the patient developed AWS; however, the features were similar to that of local anesthetic toxicity. The case was successfully managed with intravenous midazolam, esmolol, and propofol infusion. Due to similarity of clinical features of AWS and mild local anesthetic toxicity, an anesthetist should be in a position to differentiate the condition promptly and manage it aggressively.




Subedi, A., & Bhattarai, B. (2013). Intraoperative Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome: A Coincidence or Precipitation? Case Reports in Anesthesiology, 2013, 1–3.

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