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Supraclavicular and paravertebral blocks: Are we underutilizing these regional techniques in perioperative analgesia?

There has been a renewed interest in supraclavicular and paravertebral blocks for regional anesthesia. Studies have shown a high block success rate with the supraclavicular approach to the brachial plexus. Despite the use of ultrasound, pleural puncture and pneumothorax may still occur. The supraclavicular block is associated with a higher incidence of phrenic nerve paralysis and caution should be exercised in patients with respiratory difficulties. Paravertebral blocks have been used successfully to provide analgesia and anesthesia for a variety of surgical procedures. When compared to thoracic epidural blockade for thoracic surgery, paravertebral blockade provides comparable analgesia with a better preservation of pulmonary function and a lower incidence of hypotension. This brings forth the question as to whether paravertebral blocks have replaced epidural blockade as the gold standard in perioperative pain management for thoracoabdominal procedures.

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