How to Get Started with Peripheral Nerve Blocks

Advanced technology has made placing blocks safer, quicker and more efficient

Regional anesthesia nerve blocks work well with ultrasound guidance

Advances in ultrasound technology has allowed regional anesthesia techniques like peripheral nerve blocks to become more prominent for surgical pain control. (Photo: Bigstock)

Over the years, advances in ultrasound technology has allowed regional anesthesia to become a viable alternative for pain control and pain management. Procedures like peripheral nerve blocks are now a common option for many practitioners due to the effectiveness of ultrasound guidance. The switch to ultrasound-guided regional anesthesia techniques has transformed the field, giving new light to possibilities that were once thought out of reach.

Today, a well-trained anesthesiologist can use ultrasound to place nerve blocks with the kind of care and efficiency that couldn’t be achieved a decade ago. Ultrasound gives doctors a more complete visualization when placing blocks, giving practitioners the chance to see the needle as it moves along its path. It also lets them see different internal structures along the way, and avoid any further damage in the process. In the end, all of this leads to more successful blocks and better patient outcomes.

Of course, proper placement and technique can take some time to develop, but with the help of modern technology nerve blocks are easier than ever to perform. In order to get the most out of ultrasound guidance, here are a few basic fundamentals you’ll need:

  1. Training — advanced training is crucial for any anesthesia providers new to ultrasound guidance. Ultrasound regional courses are available throughout the country, and most are often reasonably priced and not too long. The benefits certainly outweigh any extra time it may take for a course or two.
  2. A designated room — ultrasound-guided regional anesthesia is best performed in a designated area with easy access to all the necessary tools and supplies needed for the procedure. Things like adequate lighting and ample work space help make peripheral nerve block procedures even safer than they already are.
  3. Educate patients — it’s important to educate everyone unfamiliar, including staff and patients, on the advantages of peripheral nerve blocks. Appointing roles to those assisting you in the procedure, such as a block nurse, can also be very helpful.
  4. Ultrasound machine — what good is ultrasound guidance without the proper machine? A good ultrasound machine is key, and can run anywhere from $5,000 to $100,000. Depending on your preference, many new machines are easily portable and offer high quality images. The more bells and whistles you want, the higher the price may be. In the end, there are many factors to consider before purchasing the right ultrasound machine, and it’s always better to do research to find the perfect machine for your blocks.
  5. Needles — like a good ultrasound machine, placing a peripheral nerve block is impossible without the right nerve block needle. Today, there are a variety of needles to choose from, based on length, gauge, echogenicity, bevel and insulation qualities. With ultrasound, echogenicity is an important factor to consider, and most new needles tend to focus on their ability to enhance visualization under ultrasound.

To learn more about the essentials for peripheral nerve blocks, click here: Basics of Blocks.

Since 1981, Havel’s has offered premium quality anesthesia needles and pain control needles for anesthesiologists, pain management specialists, physicians, doctors, hospitals and other leading medical professionals. To see Havel’s selection of anesthesia and pain control needles, please click here: Havel’s Anesthesia and Pain Control Needles.

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