A Prospective, Randomized Comparison Between the Popliteal and Subgluteal Approaches for Continuous Sciatic Nerve Block with Stimulating Catheters

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In this prospective, blinded study, we randomized 56 patients undergoing hallux valgus repair to receive continuous sciatic nerve block using a subgluteal (n = 28) or a posterior popliteal approach (n = 28) with a perineural stimulating catheter. Postoperatively, the stimulating catheter was connected to a patient-controlled analgesia pump with 0.0625% levobupivacaine (basal infusion rate of 3 mL/h, patient-controlled bolus dose of 3 mL, and lockout time of 20 min). Both approaches provided similar postoperative analgesia; however, local anesthetic consumption was larger in the popliteal group (4.9 ± 1.4 mL/h) compared with the subgluteal group (3.8 ± 1.1 mL/h; P < 0.05). We conclude continuous postoperative analgesia using stimulating catheters was effective at both injection sites; however, a subgluteal approach reduced the overall amount of local anesthetic.

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