James C. Eisenach, M.D., Editor

Overview of American Society of Regional Anesthesia Annual Meeting. Atlanta, Georgia, April 10–13, 1997.

The American Society of Regional Anesthesia held its 22nd Annual Meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, from April 10–13, 1997. The meeting was attended by more than 550 anesthesiologists from the United States and abroad. The meeting included hands-on workshops in regional anesthesia and didactic sessions focusing on important clinical issues in regional anesthesia for surgery, obstetrics, and pain management. In addition, a number of oral and poster discussions and presentations were made on current scientific research in the areas of physiology, pharmacology, and techniques of regional anesthesia and analgesia.

The meeting opened on Thursday, April 10, with a day of refresher course lectures, including such topics as “Combined Spinal Epidural Techniques,”“Evaluation of Neurologic Dysfunction after Regional Anesthesia,” and “The Treatment of Peripheral Neuropathies.” These were culminated by a presentation by Drs. Philip Bridenbaugh and Alan Harvey on “Regulations and Reimbursement for Pain Management.” Dr. Harvey explained the process of determining reimbursement for particular procedures, and Dr. Bridenbaugh explained that regulations in this area are in a state of flux and that “part of the difficulties in including pain services in capitated contracts is that we do not have solid utilization and cost data.”

Concomitant with the refresher courses were four pro-con sessions. The use of audience response technology gave new meaning to the term audience participation with attendees answering questions posed by the speakers and the results displayed immediately in graphic form. The pro-con sessions prompted lively discussions on the topics of “RSD,”“Anticoagulation and Regional Anesthesia,”“OB Anesthesia Call From Home,” and “Lidocaine As An Appropriate Spinal Agent.” While Dr. Jeffrey Grass presented convincing data for the safety of regional anesthesia in the setting of anticoagulation and stated that “central neural blockade techniques should be offered and can be safely provided to these patients because the potential benefits clearly outweigh any minimal increased risk,” Dr. Gale Thompson argued strongly against this practice stating that “just one case of paralysis from a regional anesthetic can be magnified many fold with calamitous consequences to the anesthesiologist, to the profession, and to society!”

As in years past, participants were able to end the day with wine and cheese at the two more informal cracker barrel sessions on “Anesthesia and the Law” and “Cancer Pain Management.”

Workshops included traditional topics such as “Brachial Plexus Blocks” and “Celiac/Hypogastric Blocks” and some newer topics, including “Discography” and “Computers in Regional Anesthesia.”

Friday's session began with poster discussions followed by the presentation of the ASRA distinguished service award to Dr. Boardman Wang by ASRA President, John Rowlingson, M.D., and Lynn Broadman, M.D.

On Saturday, April 12, Dr. Gale Thompson presented the annual Labat Lecture entitled “From Pauchet to Today: The French Connection.” The afternoon offered simultaneous parallel sessions on “Interventional Techniques for Spine Pain” and “Regional Anesthesia in the Twenty First Century.” This was followed by Dr. Stephen Abram and Dr. Alon Winnie debating the utility of differential blocks and Dr. Raymond Roy and Dr. David Haddox discussing which specialty board was the best credentialing body for pain management physicians.

The meeting concluded on Sunday morning with concomitant programs on “Controversies in Pain Medicine” and “Pediatric Regional Anesthesia” followed by the installation of Dr. Denise Wedel as the new ASRA President. This was followed by the Annual Bonica lecture presented by Dr. David Chestnut on the topic “Does Epidural Analgesia Increase the Cesarean Section Rate?”

We look forward to seeing everyone at the next ASRA annual meeting in Seattle, Washington, from May 14–17, 1998.

Carol A. Warfield, M.D.

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center; Department of Anesthesia and Critical Care; Pain Management Center; 330 Brookline Avenue; Boston, Massachusetts 02215