Feasibility and safety of ultrasound-guided nerve block for management of limb injuries by emergency care physicians

Sanjeev Bhoi, Tej P Sinha, Mahaveer Rodha, Amit Bhasin, Radhakrishna Ramchandani, Sagar Galwankar
Journal of Emergencies, Trauma, and Shock 2012, 5 (1): 28-32

BACKGROUND: Patients require procedural sedation and analgesia (PSA) for the treatment of acute traumatic injuries. PSA has complications. Ultrasound (US) guided peripheral nerve block is a safe alternative.

AIM: Ultrasound guided nerve blocks for management of traumatic limb emergencies in Emergency Department (ED).

SETTING AND DESIGN: Prospective observational study conducted in ED.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Patients above five years requiring analgesia for management of limb emergencies were recruited. Emergency Physicians trained in US guided nerve blocks performed the procedure.

STATISTICAL ANALYSIS: Effectiveness of pain control, using visual analogue scale was assessed at baseline and at 15 and 60 minutes after the procedure. Paired t test was used for comparison.

RESULTS: Fifty US guided nerve blocks were sciatic- 4 (8%), femoral-7 (14%), brachial- 29 (58%), median -6 (12%), and radial 2 (4%) nerves. No patients required rescue PSA. Initial median VAS score was 9 (Inter Quartile Range [IQR] 7-10) and at 1 hour was 2(IQR 0-4). Median reduction in VAS score was 7.44 (IQR 8-10(75%), 1-2(25%) (P=0.0001). Median procedure time was 9 minutes (IQR 3, 12 minutes) and median time to reduction of pain was 5 minutes (IQR 1,15 minutes). No immediate or late complications noticed at 3 months.

CONCLUSION: Ultrasound-guided nerve blocks can be safely and effectively performed for upper and lower limb emergencies by emergency physicians with adequate training.

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