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Regional anesthesia techniques for ambulatory orthopedic surgery

O'Donnell, Brian D; Iohom, Gabriella

Current Opinion in Anesthesiology: December 2008 - Volume 21 - Issue 6 - p 723–728
doi: 10.1097/ACO.0b013e328314b665
Ambulatory anesthesia: Edited by Girish Joshi

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.

Department of Anaesthesia and Intensive Care Medicine, Cork University Hospital, Cork, Ireland

Correspondence to Gabriella Iohom, MD, FCARCSI, PhD, Department of Anaesthesia and Intensive Care Medicine, Cork University Hospital, Cork, Ireland Tel: +353 21 4922135; fax: +353 21 4546434; e-mail:

© 2008 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.