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A portable mechanical pump providing over four days of patient-controlled analgesia by perineural infusion at home.


Background and objectives

Local anesthetics infused via perineural catheters postoperatively decrease opioid use and side effects while improving analgesia. However, the infusion pumps described for outpatients have been limited by several factors, including the following: limited local anesthetic reservoir volume, fixed infusion rate, and inability to provide patient-controlled doses of local anesthetic in combination with a continuous infusion. We describe a patient undergoing open rotator cuff repair who was discharged home with an interscalene perineural catheter and a mechanical infusion pump that allowed a variable rate of continuous infusion, as well as patient-controlled boluses of local anesthetic for over 4 days.

Case report

A 77-year-old woman, who had previously required a 3-day hospital admission for acute postoperative pain following an open repair of her left rotator cuff, presented for an open repair of her contralateral rotator cuff. Preoperatively she received an interscalene block and perineural catheter. After the procedure she was discharged home with a portable pump that infused ropivacaine continuously at a rate of 6 mL/h and allowed a 2-mL patient-controlled bolus every 20 minutes (550-mL reservoir). The basal infusion was decreased, as tolerated, by having the patient reprogram the pump with instructions given over the telephone. Without the use of any oral opioids, the patient scored her surgical pain 0 to 1 (on a scale of 0 to 10) while at rest and 2 to 3 for 2 physical therapy sessions during which she used the bolus function to reinforce her analgesia. After 98 hours of infusion, the patient's husband removed the catheter with instructions given over the telephone, and her subsequent surgical pain was treated with oral opioids.


Continuous, perineural local anesthetic infusions are possible on an ambulatory basis for multiple days using a portable, programmable pump that provides a variable basal infusion rate, patient-controlled boluses, and a large anesthetic reservoir.

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