Purpose of review: The purpose of this review is to present advances in the use of regional anesthetic techniques in ambulatory orthopedic surgery. New findings regarding the use of both neuraxial anesthesia and peripheral nerve block are discussed.
Recent findings: Neuraxial anesthesia: The use of short-acting local anesthetic agents such as mepivacaine, 2-chloroprocaine, and articaine permits rapid onset intrathecal anesthesia with early recovery profiles. Advantages and limitations of these agents are discussed. Peripheral nerve block: Peripheral nerve blocks in limb surgery have the potential to transform this patient cohort into a truly ambulatory, self-caring group. Recent trends and evidence regarding the benefits of regional anesthesia techniques are presented. Continuous perineural catheters permit extension of improved perioperative analgesia into the ambulatory home setting. The role and reported safety of continuous catheters are discussed.
Summary: In summary, shorter acting, neuraxial, local anesthetic agents, specific to the expected duration of surgery, may provide superior recovery profiles in the ambulatory setting. A trend towards more peripheral and selective nerve blocks exists. The infrapatellar block is a promising technique to provide analgesia following knee arthroscopy. Improved analgesia seen in the perioperative period can be safely and effectively extended to the postoperative period with the use of perineural catheters.