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The role of regional anaesthesia techniques in the management of acute pain

Department of Anaesthesia, Mater Misericordiae Health Services, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Summary

Regional anaesthesia and analgesia techniques are used to effectively manage acute pain after a variety of surgeries. With the rapid growth of ultrasound-guided procedures, anaesthetists are re-examining regional anaesthesia and analgesia and their roles in pain management. In this evolving field previous published data may not reflect current practice. Therefore, a narrative review of recent literature was undertaken to establish the current utility and efficacy of regional anaesthesia and analgesia for the management of acute pain following surgery. Only prospective randomised controlled trials published between March 2009 and March 2011 with outcome measures of analgesia efficacy were included. Sixty-five randomised controlled trials were identified involving 4841 patients. Regional techniques for the management of knee (26%), abdominal (26%) and shoulder (14%) surgery were most frequently studied. The review provides further evidence that regional anaesthesia and analgesia can offer excellent analgesia with acceptable side-effects for the management of post surgical pain. In addition, the results of this review support the use of ultrasound guidance when performing regional techniques and continuous catheter techniques to prolong analgesia.

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