Ultrasound for Regional Anesthesia Does Not Improve Pain Outcomes

The use of ultrasound in regional anesthesia does not result in better pain outcomes compared to traditional methods, according to research published in the September 2011 issue of Anesthesia & Analgesia and reported in Anesthesiology News.

Of 16 studies that compared pain severity in ultrasound techniques and traditional localization techniques, eight found that ultrasound guidance improved analgesia and eight studies reported no difference. Only one study of the eight that found better outcomes with ultrasound guidance reported a decrease in numeric pain score greater than one.

Lead author Stephen Choi, MD, staff anesthesiologist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, said a decrease in numeric pain scores of less than one probably means little to a patient.

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