The Delivery Rate Accuracy of Portable Infusion Pumps Used for Continuous Regional Analgesia

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Portable pumps used for local anesthetic infusion during continuous regional analgesia are gaining acceptance. These pumps are often used for ambulatory patients who are medically unsupervised throughout most of the infusion. However, the performance of these pumps, which infuse potentially toxic medication, has not been independently investigated. We investigated the flow rate accuracy, consistency, and profiles of various portable pumps often used for local anesthetic infusion during continuous regional analgesia. By using a computer/scale combination within a laboratory to record infusion rates, 6 pumps were tested with their flow regulators at expected (30°–32°C) and increased (34°–36°C) temperatures. Infusion rate accuracy differed significantly among the pumps, exhibiting flow rates within ±15% of their expected rate for 18%–100% of their infusion duration. An increase in temperature also affected pumps to differing degrees, with infusion rates increasing from 0% to 25% for each model tested. These results suggest that factors such as flow rate accuracy and consistency, infusion profile, and temperature sensitivity should be considered when choosing and using a portable infusion pump for local anesthetic administration.

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