Ambulatory discharge after long-acting peripheral nerve blockade: 2382 blocks with ropivacaine.
UNLABELLED: Discharging patients with a long-acting peripheral nerve block remains controversial. Concerns about accidental injury of the limb or surgical site because of an insensate extremity are common despite a lack of data on the subject. We report a study examining the efficacy and complications of discharge after long-acting block. This prospective study included 1791 patients receiving an upper or lower extremity nerve block with 0.5% ropivacaine and discharged the day of surgery. Efficacy (conversion to general anesthesia and opioid use), persistent motor or sensory weakness, complications, satisfaction, and unscheduled health care visits were assessed in the postanesthesia care unit (PACU) and at 24 h and 7 days postoperatively using a detailed questionnaire. There were 2382 blocks placed: 1119 upper extremity blocks and 1263 lower extremity blocks. Efficacy was demonstrated by a small conversion to general anesthesia (1%-6%) and a lack of patients requiring opioids in the PACU (89%-92%). A large percentage of patients continued to use opioids at 7 days (17%-22%). Despite the requirement for opioids, satisfaction with the anesthesia experience was high at 24 h and 7 days (Liekert scale [1-5] mean at 24 h, 4.88 +/- 0.44; mean at 7 days, 4.77 +/- 0.69) and most (98%) would choose the same anesthetic again. Thirty-seven patients (1.6%) were identified with symptoms or complaints at 7 days. After review, 6 of them (0.25%) had a persistent paresthesia that may have been related to the block or discharge. We conclude that long-acting peripheral nerve blockade may be safely used in the ambulatory setting with a high degree of efficacy, safety, and satisfaction. This technique is associated with an infrequent incidence of neurologic complications and injuries. Given the frequent incidence of persistent pain at 7 days, prolongation of the analgesia would be beneficial. IMPLICATIONS: This study demonstrates that long-acting peripheral nerve blockade may be safely used in the ambulatory setting with a high degree of efficacy and satisfaction. This technique is associated with an infrequent incidence of neurologic complications and injuries despite discharge with an insensate extremity. The frequent incidence of pain at 7 days suggests that longer-acting local anesthetics are still needed.
Klein, SM; Nielsen, KC; Greengrass, RA; Warner, DS; Martin, A; Steele, SM
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