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Continuous versus single shot brachial plexus block and their relationship to discharge barriers and length of stay

Matthew Thompson, Robert Simonds, Bryce Clinger, Kristen Kobulnicky, Adam P Sima, Laura Lahaye, N Douglas Boardman
Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery 2017, 26 (4): 656-661

BACKGROUND: Brachial plexus block has been associated with improved pain control and decreased length of stay in patients undergoing upper extremity arthroplasty. Continuous delivery is associated with a shorter length of stay; however, comparisons to single-shot delivery in this setting are scarce. As the paradigm shifts to outpatient arthroplasty in the era of bundled payments, there exists a strong impetus to identify the most effective mode of analgesia associated with the least risk to patients.

METHODS: This is a retrospective review of 697 patients undergoing upper extremity arthroplasty comparing the rate of complications and incidence of potential barriers to discharge and length of stay of patients receiving continuous vs. single-shot perineural brachial plexus block.

RESULTS: No difference was observed in the complication rate between indwelling (n = 63 [12%]) and single-shot groups (n = 30 [17%]; P = .137). The majority of complications were pulmonary, 72% attributable to oxygen desaturation. The indwelling catheter group had 1.61 times higher odds (95% confidence interval, 1.07-2.42; P = .023) of exhibiting any potential barrier to discharge and exhibited a longer length of stay (P = .002).

CONCLUSION: There was no demonstrated disparity in the rate of complications associated with single-shot vs. continuous brachial plexus block. However, the continuous indwelling catheter was associated with an increased incidence of potential barriers to discharge and an increased length of stay compared with patients receiving single-shot regional anesthesia.


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