Regional Analgesia for Post-Operative Pain Management – Initial Experience in a Low Resource Setting

  • AA Yunus
  • EO Onwasor
  • ME Idris
  • FS Ejagwulu


Objective: The aim of this study is to demonstrate the use of some regional anaesthetic techniques in effective postoperative pain control in a low resource setting. We also wanted to find out the potential benefits and prospects of regional techniques to achieve effective postoperative analgesia.
Design: This study was a prospective observational study in which 25 patients presenting for various orthopaedic and general surgical procedures were recruited randomly.
Setting: Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital (ABUTH), Zaria, Nigeria from December, 2008 to May, 2009.
Subjects: Eligible patients were males and females aged 21 – 55 years. These included emergency and elective cases.
Results: The age range was 21-55 years with a mean age of 34 years. Of the 25 patient studied, 14 of them were men and 11 women constituting 56% and 44% respectively. Our study shows that Hausa/Fulani ethnic group made up 75% of the study population. Intraoperatively, the anaesthetic techniques used were general anaesthesia (only) in 13 patients (52%), Regional techniques consisting of spinals, epidurals, combined spinals and epidurals and brachial plexus blocks in nine patients (36%) and three (12%) of the patients had a combination of general anaesthesia (GA) and regional anaesthesia (RA). For post-operative pain management, nine patients (36%) had continuous brachial plexus block using intermittent injections, 13 (52%) patients had epidural catheters with intermittent top-up injections and three (12%) patients received combined spinal and epidural with an epidural catheter left in-situ for intermittent
top-ups. The drugs used for top-ups included 0.125% plain bupivacaine (15 patients), 0.125% plain bupivacaine + 2.5mcgs/ml Fentanyl (10 patients) in 10ml aliquots. The outcome was good in most patients with 19 patients (82.4%) experiencing only mild pain (numeric pain score 0-3). Onset of post-operative pain was 13-18 hours in most (52%) of patients with majority of patients (80%) requiring only a single dose of opioid
in 24 hours. There was no incidence of infection at site of catheter insertion one week after the procedure.
Conclusion: Regional techniques if used properly can provide superior pain control in the post-operative period. There is reduction in the requirements of opioids in the immediate post-operative when regional techniques are used for pain management. We need to encourage the use of these techniques especially in our setting where resources are sparse and potent analgesics are not always available.

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