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February 14, 1966

Control of Intractable Pain With Subarachnoid Alcohol Block

JAMA. 1966;195(7):541-544. doi:10.1001/jama.1966.03100070085024

In a study of the effectiveness and possible complications of subarachnoid alcohol block for control of intractable pain in 322 patients with advanced malignant disease, we found that significant pain relief was obtained in 187 of 322 patients, and partial relief in 84. Administration of the block before narcotic addiction developed improved the general condition of the patient by relieving the discomfort caused by the side effects of narcotics. The method was easily employed in debilitated patients who were poor risks for major neurosurgical procedures. Twenty-five complications occurred in 485 blocks performed in 322 patients, only two of 25 being permanent. When patients are selected carefully, and the block is performed with great caution, risk is minimal and longlasting relief of intractable pain is possible in the majority of terminal-cancer patients.