In a previous study, we assessed the efficacy of a continuous fascia iliaca compartment block (FICB) in reducing the pain at thigh autograft skin donor sites. However, a continuous local anesthetic infusion may cause toxicity or infection. In this prospective, randomized double-blind study, we compared the analgesic efficacy of FICB when given as a single shot vs continuous infusion during the 72-hour postoperative period up to the first dressing change (1dc). After ethical committee approval and informed consent, 81 adults (with 1% to 20% total burn surface area) who were scheduled for split-skin graft harvest procedures of the thigh underwent the FICB procedure before general or spinal anesthesia. Via FICB, patients received a bolus of 40 ml followed by 10 ml/hr consisting of either ropivacaine 0.2% for bolus and infusion (continuous, n = 27), or ropivacaine 0.2% for bolus and saline for infusion (single-shot, n = 27), or saline for both bolus and infusion (control, n = 27) until 1dc. Postoperative analgesia consisted of morphine via a patient-controlled analgesia device. We compared cumulative morphine consumption, static and dynamic pain scores, and side effects related to morphine or ropivacaine during the 72 hours up to 1dc. A single block had the same morphine sparing-effect as the continuous technique. Both techniques were equally effective in diminishing dynamic pain and reducing the side effects normally associated with morphine. However, patients receiving a single block experienced less residual paresia and were more satisfied with their pain-relief treatment than those who received a continuous infusion. A single-shot FICB is an easy, inexpensive, and efficient method for diminishing pain at thigh donor sites during a 72-hour postoperative period and has limited side effects and no residual paresia.
From the Burn Center, Queen Astrid Military Hospital, Military Medical Research Program and Development Committee, Brussels, Belgium.
Address correspondence to O. Cuignet, Burn Center, Hopital Militaire Reine Astrid, Rue Bruyn 2, 1120 Brussels, Belgium.