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Br J Anaesth. 2010 May;104(5):538-46. doi: 10.1093/bja/aeq069. Epub 2010 Apr 2.

Fifteen years of ultrasound guidance in regional anaesthesia: part 1.

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  • 1Department of Anaesthesia, Intensive Care Medicine and Pain Therapy, Medical University of Vienna, Waehringer Guertel 18-20, A-1090 Vienna, Austria.


Ultrasound guidance for regional anaesthesia has gained enormous popularity in the past decade. The use of ultrasound guidance for many regional anaesthetic techniques is common in daily clinical practice, and the number of practitioners using it is increasing. However, alongside the enthusiasm, there should be a degree of informed scepticism. The widespread use of the various techniques of ultrasound-guided regional blocks without adequate training raises the danger of malpractice and subsequent impaired outcome. Adequate education in the use of regional block techniques under ultrasound guidance is essential. This review article addresses ultrasound guidance for regional anaesthesia, and is divided into two parts because of the size of the topic and the number of issues covered. This first part includes a review and preview of ultrasound guidance in regional anaesthesia and discusses all aspects of ultrasound for regional anaesthesia with a focus on recent technical developments, the positive implications in economics, further potential advantages (e.g. detection of anatomical variants, painless performance of blocks) and education. It also attempts to define a 'gold standard' in regional anaesthesia with the most recent findings in adequate volumes of local anaesthetics for peripheral nerve blocks. This standard should include an extraneural needle position, a high success rate, and wide application of ultrasound guidance in regional anaesthesia. The second part describes the impact of ultrasound on the development of nerve block techniques in the past 5 yr.

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