Brachial plexus catheter reservoir for the treatment of upper-extremity cancer pain: Technical case report

Michael Y. Wang, George P. Teitelbaum, William J. Loskota, Debra Eng, Felipe Albuquerque, J. Peter Gruen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE AND IMPORTANCE: Infiltration of the brachial plexus with anesthetics can provide relief of upper-extremity pain from invasive cancer. Because the analgesia is short-lived, however, repeated invasive treatments are necessary. We describe the implantation of a catheter reservoir system, in which anesthetic injections through a subcutaneous port resulted in anesthetic infiltration of the brachial plexus. CLINICAL PRESENTATION: A 47- year-old Hispanic man with squamous cell carcinoma of the larynx had undergone surgical resection, radiation treatment, and chemotherapy. Two years later, he had locally recurrent disease involving the brachial plexus, neck, and chest wall. The patient's pain was minimally responsive to narcotics, which also caused severe nausea and anorexia. TECHNIQUE: The brachial plexus was localized percutaneously with a needle electrode stimulator. Contrast injection under fluoroscopy confirmed entry into the plexus sheath. With use of the Seldinger technique, two Silastic catheters were placed within the brachial plexus and attached with a 'Y' connector to a reservoir. The patient experienced complete relief of upperextremity pain after a test injection with xylocaine. Thereafter, serial injections of bupivacaine with triamcinolone at 1-week intervals provided complete pain relief. After the treatments were initiated, the patient reported improved sleep and an improvement in his quality of life. CONCLUSION: A catheter reservoir system for brachial plexus analgesia can provide safe and effective analgesia for upper-extremity pain. This technique negates the need for repeated invasive procedures and avoids the complications of neurolysis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1009-1012
Number of pages4
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2000


  • Brachial plexus
  • Cancer pain
  • Head and neck cancer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Surgery


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