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Anesth Analg. 2003 Apr;96(4):1089-95, table of contents.

Continuous interscalene brachial plexus block for postoperative pain control at home: a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled study.

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  • 1Department of Anesthesiology, University of Florida College of Medicine, Gainesville, FL 32610-0254, USA.


In this study, we investigated the efficacy of patient-controlled regional analgesia for outpatients undergoing moderately painful orthopedic surgery of the shoulder. Preoperatively, patients (n = 20) received an interscalene nerve block and perineural catheter. Postoperatively, patients were discharged home with both oral opioids and a portable infusion pump delivering either 0.2% ropivacaine or 0.9% saline, determined randomly in a double-blinded manner. Daily end points included pain scores, opioid use and side effects, sleep quality, and technique complications. Ropivacaine (n = 10) infusion significantly reduced pain compared with saline (n = 10) infusion. The average pain at rest (scale: 0-10) on postoperative day 1 (median, 25th-75th percentiles) was 4.8 (4.0-5.0) for the saline group, versus 0.0 (0.0-2.0) for the ropivacaine group (P < 0.001). Oral opioid use and related side effects were also significantly decreased in the ropivacaine group. On postoperative day 1, median tablet consumption was 8.0 (6.5-9.5) and 0.5 (0.0-1.0) for the saline and ropivacaine groups, respectively (P < 0.001). Sleep disturbance scores were nearly threefold greater on the first postoperative night for patients receiving saline (P = 0.013). We conclude that after moderately painful orthopedic surgery of the shoulder, ropivacaine infusion using a portable infusion pump and an interscalene perineural catheter at home decreased pain, opioid use and related side effects, and sleep disturbances.


This randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled study demonstrated that ropivacaine, infused with a portable infusion pump via an interscalene perineural catheter for 3 days at home, significantly decreased postoperative pain after orthopedic surgery of the shoulder. In addition to providing potent analgesia and increasing patient satisfaction, perineural infusion decreased opioid requirements and their associated side effects.

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