Study objective: We determine whether 3-in-1 femoral nerve block is effective as analgesia for fractured neck of femur when administered by emergency physicians.
Methods: This was a prospective, randomized controlled trial with blinded assessors conducted in a district general hospital emergency department in the United Kingdom. Over a 6-month period, all patients with fractured neck of femur were considered for study. Patients were randomly assigned to receive 3-in-1 nerve block with bupivacaine plus intravenous morphine or intravenous morphine. An accreditation package for all ED medical staff was devised to ensure competence in the technique of 3-in-1 nerve block. Pain scores were recorded on arrival and at intervals up to 24 hours after admission. Morphine consumption in the first 24 hours was recorded.
Results: Ninety-four patients sustained fractured neck of femur during the study period; 50 were studied. Of 44 not studied, 42 were confused, 1 did not consent, and 1 was overlooked. Patients receiving 3-in-1 nerve blocks recorded a faster time to reach the lowest pain score: 2.88 hours for patients with nerve block and 5.81 hours for control patients (mean difference -2.93 h; 95% confidence interval [CI] -5.48 to -0.38 h). Nerve block recipients required significantly less morphine per hour than control patients (mean of 0.49 mg/h versus 1.17 mg/h; mean difference -0.68 mg/h; 95% CI -1.23 to -0.12 mg/h).
Conclusion: Three-in-one femoral nerve block is an effective method of providing analgesia to patients with fractured neck of femur in the ED. All grades of medical staff were able to apply and consolidate this skill.