• Anaesthetic techniques, regional; brachial plexus


One hundred patients scheduled for elective outpatient hand surgery had blockade of the axillary brachial plexus by one of three techniques; insertion of a catheter into the brachial plexus sheath (n = 25), use of paraesthesia (n = 50) or use of the nerve stimulator (n = 25) to localise the plexus. Only two patients required general anaesthesia for the planned surgery. Assessment of the dermatomes blocked did not demonstrate a statistical difference between the success rates of the three groups. The more nerves detected in the paraesthesia and the nerve stimulator groups before injection of local anaesthetic the higher the success rate of the block. We advocate use of the nerve stimulator technique in view of the possible risk of neurological damage associated with paraesthesia and the technical difficulties with the catheter technique, for routine brachial plexus blockade.