Interscalene brachial plexus block with a continuous catheter insertion system and a disposable infusion pump

S M Klein, S A Grant, R A Greengrass, K C Nielsen, K P Speer, W White, D S Warner, S M Steele
Anesthesia and Analgesia 2000, 91 (6): 1473-8
Continuous interscalene brachial plexus blockade traditionally requires a hospital stay for local anesthetic infusion, and achieving consistent catheter insertion may be difficult. Incorporating long-acting pain relief from a continuous peripheral nerve block, with a reliable method of catheter insertion, and a self-contained infusion system would be a valuable asset for short-stay care. We compared the efficacy of single injection interscalene brachial plexus blockade to a continuous peripheral nerve block, with an insulated Tuohy system and a disposable infusion pump. Forty adult patients scheduled for open rotator cuff repair were entered in this randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled study. Patients received an interscalene brachial plexus blockade and a continuous peripheral nerve catheter as their primary anesthetic and then, were assigned to receive one of two different postoperative infusions: either 0.2% ropivacaine at 10 mL/h via a disposable infusion pump or normal saline at 10 mL/h via a disposable infusion pump (n = 18-20 per group). Visual analog pain scores and postoperative morphine consumption were measured for 24 h. The ropivacaine group showed less pain than the placebo group (P: = 0.0001) between 12 and 24 h after the initial injection of local anesthetic. In addition, initial interscalene blockade was successful in all patients and all redosed catheters were functional after 24 h with the continuous catheter insertion system. We conclude that it is possible to achieve a high rate of successful catheter placement and analgesia by using the continuous catheter insertion system and a disposable infusion pump in the ambulatory setting. This method of analgesia may offer improved pain relief after outpatient rotator cuff repair.

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