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Suprascapular Nerve Block by Catheter for Breakthrough Shoulder Cancer Pain
  1. Sebastiano Mercadante, M.D.*,,
  2. Monica Sapio, M.D.* and
  3. Patrizia Villari, M.D.*
  1. *Department of Anesthesia and Intensive Care, Buccheri La Ferla Hospital FBF,
  2. Pain Relief and Palliative Care, Societa' Assistenza Malato Oncologico Terminale (SAMOT), Palermo, Italy
  1. Reprint requests: Sebastiano Mercadante, M.D., Pain Relief and Palliative Care, SAMOT, via Libertà 191, 90143, Palermo, Italy.


Background and Objectives. Incidental shoulder pain due to movement renders pain control difficult because it requires high basal dosages or additional doses of opioids. Shoulder pain can be alleviated by suprascapular nerve block, and the placement of a catheter can permit the injection of local anesthesia as needed.

Methods. In a patient with lung cancer and continuous chest pain well controlled by opioids but with shoulder breakthrough pain necessitating extra doses of opioids, a suprascapular nerve block was performed via an indwelling catheter.

Results. The breakthrough events due to scapular involvement were treated with local injections of 5 mL bupivacaine 0.5% until death (4 weeks later) without any complications.

Conclusions. Continuous suprascapular nerve block is safe and simple and has proven to be useful in avoiding extra doses of opioids.

  • suprascapular nerve block
  • shoulder
  • cancer pain
  • lung cancer
  • break-through pain

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