Ultrasound Guided Nerve Blocks, Not Opioids, for Post-Operative Pain Management

December 01, 2016

It’s no secret that the U.S. is in the throes of a major heroin epidemic, at least partly caused by the over-prescription of opioid painkillers by well-meaning physicians. When it comes to perioperative pain control, there are new ways to tackle patient discomfort without resorting to prescription opioids.

Dr. Sonia Szlyk, an anesthesiologist and director of regional anesthesia for North American Partners in Anesthesia's Mid-Atlantic division, explains how local anesthesia (aided by ultrasound guidance) is helping control post-operative discomfort without limiting patient mobility. Dr. Szlyk recently spoke to Becker’s Hospital Review about how the increase in ultrasound-guided nerve blocks in post-surgical patients can help reduce opioid use.

“More than 70 million patients per year are prescribed opioids for postoperative pain, and one in 15 will go on to long-term use and abuse,” explains Dr. Szlyk. “We have a responsibility to our patients and our community to make sure we are providing excellent pain control and using non-narcotic methods to achieve that goal. Regional anesthesia helps us do that.”

“Especially for lower extremity procedures such as total knee replacement, ultrasound guidance is used to selectively inject local anesthetic around the nerves responsible for pain,” says Szlyk, “while preserving motor function or strength in the leg. This allows patients to be comfortable after surgery without hindering physical therapy.”

How has the use of point-of-care ultrasound changed the way local anesthetic is delivered to post-operative patients?

“Ultrasound guidance has had such an impact because it allows us to visualize structures beneath the skin and tailor the nerve block injection to the patient's anatomy… injections are more accurate and can be performed in a very safe, efficient manner.”

Read the entire interview with Dr. Szlyk at Becker’s Hospital Review.


Learn More About Ultrasound Guidance For Nerve Blocks

Dr. Theresa Bowling will present this webinar which is designed to teach the participants how to perform an ultrasound guided thoracic paravertebral single shot nerve block and catheter placement. The relevant gross and ultrasound anatomy will be discussed and will include ultrasound video tutorials for needle and catheter placement. Indication and contraindications for performing this block will be discussed in detail: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/417014352327840771