At-Home Continuous Nerve Infusions
Learn about your home nerve infusion through these videos:
What is a continuous nerve block?
In your continuous nerve block procedure, a small plastic tube (catheter) will be placed in your leg. The catheter is placed close to the nerves that control feeling and movement in that leg. A small device pumps numbing medicine through the catheter to control your pain.
What should I expect?
- The nerve block catheter will not take away all of your pain. But, you will not need to take as many pain pills while it is working.
- The leg where the catheter is placed will be numb and may be very weak. You may not be able to put all your weight on it.
- Over time, the pump will slowly lose its shape and flatten. This will take several days, depending on what pump size you have. When the pump is empty, you will see a hard core inside.
- A team member will call you each day while your catheter is in place to make sure it is working safely.
- Do not change the flow rate dial unless your doctor tells you to.
- Always protect your leg that has the nerve block. Be careful with hot, cold, hard, or sharp surfaces. You can easily get hurt since your leg does not feel pain or pressure.
- Be careful when you move. Your balance may be affected.
- Do not pull on the catheter.
- Always have someone help you when you stand or walk while you have this nerve block. Wait until the therapy is stopped and you have regained full feeling and strength in your leg before you try to stand or walk by yourself.
- Always use assistive devices such as a knee immobilizer, crutches, or a walker during any walking or standing activities.
- Follow your doctor’s instructions about positioning and activity.
- Keep the catheter insertion site and bandage dry.
Are there any side effects?
All procedures involve risks, side effects, and possible problems. It is rare to have serious side effects and problems from this procedure. The most common side effect is short-term pain at the catheter site. Other risks include infection, bleeding, and ongoing weakness.
When to call
The symptoms listed below are very rare and could be serious. Call us right away if you have any of these symptoms:
- Numb lips
- Metallic taste in your mouth
- Ringing in your ears
- Severe dizziness
- Nausea and vomiting
How does the catheter come out?
When the pump is empty, follow these steps to remove the catheter:
- Sit down.
- Take off the dressing over the catheter. Do not use scissors.
- Firmly grasp the catheter near your skin. With gentle, steady pulling, slide it out from your skin. The catheter should come out easily. You should feel very little or no discomfort.
- If you feel any sudden sharp pain when you begin to pull, stop. Call us for instructions (see phone numbers in the “Questions” box).
- After you remove the catheter, check the tip for a black mark. Call your provider if you do not see the black mark.
- Then place the catheter and pump in the trash.
- You may place a small bandage over the spot where the catheter was.
To access this information in Russian, Spanish and Vietnamese languages, please visit UW Medicine’s Health Online website.
Your questions are important. Call your doctor or healthcare provider if you have questions about your catheter or pump.
- Harborview Regional Anesthesia Service: Weekdays from 8am to 5pm, call 206.999.0992. After hours and on weekends and holidays please call the ON-Q 24-hour product support hotline to speak to a registered nurse: 800.444.2728
- UW Medical Center – Montlake Regional Block Service: Weekdays from 7am to 5pm, call 206.598.0540. After hours and on weekends and holidays, please page the Acute Pain Service through the paging operator: 206.598.6190