Postoperative infusional continuous regional analgesia. A technique for relief of postoperative pain following major extremity surgery

Clin Orthop. 1991 May;(266):227-37
Malawer MM, Buch R, Khurana JS, Garvey T, Rice L

A new technique using postoperative infusional continuous regional analgesia (PICRA) for postoperative pain relief was investigated in 23 surgical patients treated by amputation (12 patients) or by limb-salvage resection operations (11 patients). Bupivacaine was delivered into peripheral nerve sheaths via catheters placed therein at the time of surgery. Only patients in whom the nerves were easily accessible were treated. Catheters were placed in the axillary sheath, the lumbosacral trunk, and the femoral nerve sheaths of patients treated with shoulder girdle and pelvic procedures (resections and amputations), and within the sciatic nerve sheath of those treated with lower extremity procedures. The anesthetic agent was delivered at controllable rates. Regional analgesia was obtained in the operative site with minimal motor or sensory decrease. To assess the efficacy of this technique, the results of this study group were compared with those of a matched group of 11 patients treated with similar surgical procedures but who received epidural morphine. Eleven of the 23 patients on PICRA required no supplemental narcotic agents. The mean level of the narcotic agents required by the remaining 13 PICRA patients was approximately one third of that required by the matched group of 11 patients receiving epidural morphine. Overall, the patients on PICRA had an 80% reduction of narcotic requirements when compared to the historical controls. The technique is reliable and can be performed by the surgeon, requiring about a ten-minute increase in operating time. It has potentially wide application in orthopedics in procedures in which the major nerves are easily accessible (e.g., pelvic fractures and revision hip surgery) and for patients with intractable pain of the extremities. 

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