Background and objectives: The perioperative use of continuous psoas compartment block (CPCB) was compared with traditional pain management for patients with fracture of the femur. The anatomy of CPCB was also tested in cadavers.
Methods: Forty consecutive patients (range, 67-96 years old) were prospectively randomized either to group A (given local anesthetics using a CPCB) or group B (given perioperative analgesia with meperidine). In another part of the study, CPCB was performed in 15 fresh cadavers, and dissection of the lumbar region was performed after dye injection.
Results: Continuous psoas compartment block was performed successfully in all patients in group A and was used in the pre- (16-48 hours) and postoperative (72 hours) periods. Visual analog scale score in group A was lower than in group B in 5/7 preoperative and 9/9 postoperative 8 hourly assessments. Differences reached statistical significance (P < .05) in 3 and 5 of the assessments, respectively. Patient satisfaction was higher in group A in the pre- (P < .05) and postoperative periods (P<.03). The block failed to achieve surgical anesthesia in 85% (17/20) of the patients, and additional anesthesia was needed. The anatomic study failed to support the existence of a defined "psoas compartment" previously described, and supported the clinical findings. Injected dye was found in the region of the origin of the sciatic nerve (essential for the production of anesthesia for hip surgery) in only 26% (4/15) of cadavers.
Conclusions: The CPCB seems to be an appropriate technique for efficient and safe perioperative pain control. However, in our dissections, the psoas compartment was not well defined in all patients, thus, using this route for anesthesia may result in only partial success.