Experiences with Regional Anesthesia for Analgesia During Prolonged Aeromedical Evacuation

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NTRODUCTION: There is much debate regarding the appropriate analgesic management of patients undergoing medical evacuation following combat trauma. Our primary objective was to review the utility of regional anesthetic techniques in patients undergoing aeromedical evacuation following surgical limb amputation as treatment for combat trauma. METHODS: This study was conducted as an observational retrospective cohort whereby acutely injured amputee patients were identified via the U.S. Transportation Command's patient movement database. The Theater Medical Data Store was cross-referenced for additional patient care data including opioid consumption, duration of regional technique, pain scores, and rates of intubation. RESULTS: Eighty-four records were retrieved from the Theater Medical Data Store. All 84 patients were victims of improvised explosive device detonation requiring limb amputation and subsequent transport from Kandahar Airfield or Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, to the United States. The majority of interventions remained in place throughout the evacuation process. A significant decrease in opioid consumption in patients receiving regional anesthesia was identified at each leg of the medical evacuation process. Pain scores were sporadically reported and not statistically different. Higher rates of intubation were identified in the nonregional anesthetic group. DISCUSSION: Our analysis demonstrates the feasibility and effectiveness of applying regional anesthetic techniques for pain management to our combat wounded trauma patients throughout multiple stages of aeromedical evacuation. Benefits include the potential for less sedation and less opioid consumption while potentially foregoing the requirement for intubation during transport.



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