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Delivery of local anaesthetic via a sternal catheter to reduce the pain caused by sternal fractures: first case series using the new technique
  1. A Appelboam1,
  2. C A J McLauchlan1,
  3. J Murdoch2,
  4. P A MacIntyre2
  1. 1Department of Emergency Medicine, Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, Exeter, Devon, UK
  2. 2Department of Anaesthesia, Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital
  1. Correspondence to:
 A Appelboam
 Department of Emergency Medicine, Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, Exeter, Devon EX2 5DW, UK; appel{at}


Sternal fractures cause considerable pain, and a proportion of patients require admission for analgesia. Local anaesthetic techniques have been used to reduce the pain from chest wall injuries and may reduce complications from these injuries. The use of a local anaesthetic delivered via a sternal catheter over a fractured sternum has been described in a patient whose pain was inadequately controlled with opiates. This technique was recently offered to patients in the emergency department at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, Exeter, UK, and the experiences of patients and doctors are reported. Findings from this first case series suggest that the technique seems to be effective, well tolerated and acceptable to patients.

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  • Competing interests: None declared.