Continuous Popliteal-Sciatic Blocks for Postoperative Analgesia: Traditional Proximal Catheter Insertion Superficial to the Paraneural Sheath Versus a New Distal Insertion Site Deep to the Paraneural Sheath

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We tested the hypothesis that during a continuous popliteal-sciatic nerve block, postoperative analgesia is improved with the catheter insertion point “deep” to the paraneural sheath immediately distal to the bifurcation between the tibial and common peroneal branches, compared with the traditional approach “superficial” to the paraneural sheath proximal to the bifurcation. The needle tip location was determined to be accurately located with a fluid bolus visualized with ultrasound; however, catheters were subsequently inserted without a similar fluid injection and visualization protocol (visualized air injection was permitted and usually implemented, but not required per protocol). The average pain (0–10 scale) the morning after surgery for subjects with a catheter inserted at the proximal subparaneural location (n = 31) was a median (interquartile) of 1.5 (0.0–3.5) vs 1.5 (0.0–4.0) for subjects with a catheter inserted at the distal supraparaneural location (n = 32; P = .927). Secondary outcomes were similarly negative.

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