REVIEW
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Infectious complications of regional anesthesia.

PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Regional anesthesia is commonly used to provide intraoperative anesthesia and postoperative analgesia. Potential complications of both neuraxial and peripheral regional techniques include infectious sequelae. This review examines important components of practice that are known to minimize the risk of infection associated with regional anesthesia.

RECENT FINDINGS: Healthcare-associated infections increase morbidity and mortality, patient pain and suffering, direct medical costs, and hospital length-of-stay. Recently published national guidelines from subspecialty societies and government agencies emphasize the importance of strict aseptic technique in the prevention of infectious complications associated with regional anesthesia. Proper hand hygiene, the use of surgical masks, appropriate antiseptic selection and application, and proper preparation of local anesthetic infusate solutions are all considered essential components of asepsis. Anesthesia providers need to adhere to strict aseptic guidelines to minimize the risk of potentially devastating infectious complications.

SUMMARY: Infectious complications associated with regional anesthesia are exceedingly rare events. Adherence to strict aseptic guidelines as published by the American Society of Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine, American Society of Anesthesiologists, and the Royal College of Anaesthetists may reduce the risk of infectious complications.

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