Colles' fractures are manipulated under a variety of anaesthetic techniques. An increasing awareness of cost and time within the National Health Service contributes to a marked change in the anaesthetic management of Colles' fractures. This paper presents the results of a survey of the anaesthetic techniques used in the larger accident and emergency (A&E) departments of the UK, and demonstrates the increasing popularity of the haematoma block compared with 5 years ago (7% in 1989 vs. 33% in 1994), at the expense of the general anesthetic (44% in 1989 vs 24% in 1994). The popularity of the Bier's block has remained unchanged (33% in 1989 and 1994). Local and regional anaesthetic techniques can be safely performed by A&E doctors, with appropriate monitoring, and this has beneficial resource implications for the anaesthetic department and the hospital.