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Best Pract Res Clin Anaesthesiol. 2002 Jun;16(2):211-25.

Anaesthesia for shoulder surgery.

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  • 1Department of Anaesthesiology, Orthopaedic University Clinic, Zürich/Balgrist, Zürich, Switzerland.


Early and efficient rehabilitation is necessary for improving outcome after shoulder surgery. Pain, which is severe to very severe in this condition, is the major factor which compromises early physical therapy. Interscalene block is a well recognized and efficient technique for controlling pain after major open shoulder surgery. Among the different approaches which have been described, the modified lateral technique is the safest to perform and the most suitable for insertion of an interscalene catheter. A number of different techniques have been tried to control pain after shoulder surgery. However, the application of a continuous infusion of local anaesthetics through an interscalene catheter is actually the best technique available to achieve pain relief at rest and on movement after this type of surgery. This chapter emphasizes the advantages of the modified lateral approach, the use of patient-controlled interscalene analgesia and the traps and tricks of the interscalene block. Thus, this chapter demonstrates why interscalene anaesthesia and analgesia are the most appropriate techniques for shoulder surgery.

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