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J Ultrasound Med. 2016 Apr;35(4):731-6. doi: 10.7863/ultra.15.05095. Epub 2016 Mar 1.

Ultrasound-Guided Nerve Blocks in Emergency Medicine Practice.

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Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona USA
College of Medicine, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona USA.
Department of Emergency Medicine, Highland Hospital-Alameda Health System, Oakland, California USA.
Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona USA.



The purpose of this study was to investigate the current practice of ultrasound (US)-guided regional anesthesia at academic emergency departments, including education, protocols, policies, and quality assessment.


We conducted a cross-sectional study. A questionnaire on US-guided nerve blocks was electronically sent to all emergency US directors and emergency US fellowship directors.


A total of 121 of 171 academic institutions with an emergency medicine residency program participated in this study, representing a 71% response rate. Eighty-four percent (95% confidence interval [CI], 77%-91%) of programs perform US-guided nerve blocks at their institutions. The most common type of nerve block performed is a forearm nerve block (ulnar, median, or radial). The most common indication for US-guided nerve blocks is fracture pain management. Only 7% (95% CI, 2%-12%) of programs have a separate credentialing pathway for US-guided nerve blocks. Regarding quality assessment review of US-guided nerve blocks, none of the programs have a separate program in place. In 57% (95% CI, 48%-66%) of programs, it is a component of the emergency US quality assessment program. Eighty-four percent (95% CI, 77%-90%) of programs do not have specific agreements with other specialty services with regard to performing US-guided nerve blocks in the emergency department. The most common educational methods used to teach US-guided nerve blocks are didactic sessions, at 67% (95% CI, 59%-75%); online resources, at 54% (95% CI, 45%-63%); and supervised training with real patients, at 48% (95% CI, 39%-57%).


Ultrasound-guided nerve blocks are performed at most academic emergency departments. However, there is a substantial variation in the practices and policies within these institutions.


emergency medicine; emergency ultrasound; nerve blocks; residents; ultrasound

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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