Regional anaesthesia and pain management

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Despite recent advances in analgesia delivery techniques and the availability of new analgesic agents with favourable pharmacokinetic profiles, current evidence suggests that postoperative pain continues to be inadequately managed, with the proportion of patients reporting severe or extreme postoperative pain having changed little over the past decade. Regional techniques are superior to systemic opioid agents with regards to analgesia profile and adverse effects in the context of general, thoracic, gynaecological, orthopaedic and laparoscopic surgery. Outcome studies demonstrate that regional analgesic techniques also reduce multisystem co-morbidity and mortality following major surgery in high risk patients. This review will discuss the efficacy of regional anaesthetic techniques for acute postoperative analgesia, the impact of regional block techniques on physiological outcomes, and the implications of acute peri-operative regional anaesthesia on chronic (persistent) postoperative pain.

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