Sophisticated regional anesthesia techniques have experienced substantial growth throughout the past 5 years for acute and chronic pain management. The recognition that regional anesthesia leads to superior postoperative outcomes in acute pain management and to an increased understanding of the pathogenesis of chronic pain has led to increased use of continuous peripheral nerve catheters. Furthermore, the availability of new equipment and techniques specifically designed to facilitate effective catheter placement has increased interest and adoption of peripheral nerve catheters to manage painful conditions. This has become particularly relevant as the scope of ambulatory surgery continues to grow. To maximize success rates with continuous peripheral nerve catheters, clinicians must be intimately aware of the pertinent regional anatomy and technical issues surrounding placement and maintenance of continuous nerve blockade. The recent development of outpatient infusion systems and novel anesthetics has been exciting and is likely to lead to an increase in the use of continuous peripheral catheter techniques. The consistent recognition that these techniques dramatically increase patient satisfaction should dictate an increasing presence in the field of pain management throughout the next several years.
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