Prolonged dyspnea after interscalene block: Attributed to undiagnosed Addison's disease and myasthenia gravis

  • Skedros J
  • Kiser C
  • Mendenhall S
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This report describes a patient who had a series of daily interscalene nerve blocks to treat pain following a shoulder manipulation for postsurgical stiffness. She experienced acute respiratory compromise that persisted for many weeks. All typical and unusual causes of these symptoms were ruled out. Her treating pulmonologist theorized that the ipsilateral carotid body had been injured. However, it was subsequently determined that the constellation of symptoms and their prolonged duration were best explained by a poor stress response from Addison's disease coupled with exacerbation of early onset myasthenia gravis. This patient's case is not a typical reaction to interscalene nerve blocks, and thus preoperative testing would not be recommended for myasthenia gravis or Addison's disease without underlying suspicion. We describe this report to inform physicians to consider a workup for these diagnoses if a typical workup rules out all usual causes of complications from an interscalene block.

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  • John G. Skedros

  • Casey J. Kiser

  • Shaun D. Mendenhall

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