Peripheral nerve blocks used in only 3.3% of eligible outpatient surgery cases — 4 insights

A study, published in Anesthesia & Analgesia, examined peripheral nerve block utilization in outpatient surgery settings across the U.S.

Rodney A. Gabriel, MD, of UC San Diego, and colleagues identified cases from the National Anesthesia Clinical Outcomes Registry that were performed as outpatient surgery. They examined 12.91 million outpatient surgeries from 2010 to 2015.

Here's what you should know:

1. Approximately 25.5 percent of all cases in the registries were amenable to a PNB, however PNB was only used in 3.3 percent of all possible cases.

2. PNB utilization for the brachial plexus, sciatic nerve and femoral nerve were 6.1 percent, 1.5 percent and 1.9 percent respectively.

3. The highest volume of PNB use was in shoulder arthroscopies (41 percent) and anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction (32 percent).

4. Between 2010 and 2015, PNB utilization rate rose for single-injection and continuous PNB, however the proportion of continuous PNB to single-injection PNB did not increase significantly.

Researchers concluded, "While the overall frequency of PNB is relatively low, there was a significant increase in its prevalence during the study period. Regional anesthesia offers significant positive impact for perioperative outcomes and hospital efficiency metrics; however, it is not clear what is limiting its widespread use."

Researchers said future studies are needed to identify barriers that are limiting increased regional anesthesia volume.

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