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Anesth Analg. 2006 Jul;103(1):229-33, table of contents.

The feasibility and complications of the continuous popliteal nerve block: a 1001-case survey.

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  • 1Department of Anesthesiology, Orthopedic University Hospital Balgrist, Forchstrasse 340, 8008 Zurich/Switzerland.


Perineural catheters are increasingly used worldwide for the treatment of postoperative pain in orthopedics. Long-term complications associated with the placement of a perineural catheter remain largely unstudied. We investigated the efficacy and the acute and late complications associated with the continuous popliteal nerve block. One-thousand-one patients undergoing elective surgery of the ankle or foot and scheduled to have a continuous popliteal nerve block were prospectively evaluated. All patients received an initial bolus of 40 mL ropivacaine 0.5% through the catheter. A continuous infusion of ropivacaine 0.3% initiated 6 h after the initial bolus was administered for the first 24 h and then decreased to ropivacaine 0.2% until the end of the study period. The success rate and acute complications were recorded. The overall success rate was 97.5%. The highest success rate was associated with foot inversion. Acute complications consisted of paresthesias during nerve localization (0.5%), pain during local anesthetic application (0.8%), and blood aspiration (0.4%). No central nervous system toxicity or cardiotoxicity occurred. Late complications were checked at 10 days and 3 mo after surgery. These included two cases of inflammation at the puncture site. No infection or neuropathy was observed. The use of continuous popliteal nerve block for ankle or foot surgery is associated with frequent success and few acute and late complications.

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