OGDEN -- A new way to deliver anesthesia -- touted for better controlling pain and reducing the amount of drugs used -- is being administered to local patients.
Based on a recent study at the University of Utah, the ultrasound-guided single-shot block, also known as axillary brachial plexus blockade, has proven to be 100 percent accurate when targeting nerves to eliminate pain, said Kevin Stucki, doctor of osteopathic medicine at the Ogden Clinic.
The technique, compared to a GPS navigation system, projects a clearer picture and a more direct route to a person's nerves.
One of the primary uses is for surgery that includes the hand, wrist, forearm, elbow and upper arm, Stucki said.
"It is not a local but a regional anesthetic," he said.
"It is usually performed in conjunction with a general anesthetic and is ideally designed for post-operative pain control. However, regional anesthesia can be used for the actual anesthesia of the procedure."
Therefore, Stucki said, this particular technique can be used for the anesthetic and avoid a general anesthesia altogether.
The patient is typically awake but sedated during the procedure.
After sedation, the patient's arm is placed over his or her head and an ultrasound is placed in the axilla, or upper arm, to provide images of the neurovascular structures within the arm.
A sterile needle is then injected into the arm and advanced under ultrasound into the axillary sheath. Once into the sheath, medication is delivered and the needle is removed.
"Regional anesthesia has been around for decades. I am not exactly sure how long it has been around," Stucki said.
"This particular procedure was first developed just prior to my fellowship at the University of Utah three years ago. I suspect it has been in different stages of development over the last 10 to 15 years, but has been perfected over the last five."
Stucki said the block takes anywhere from 24 to 48 hours to wear off.
"It's important for people to know this block is available, especially upon their request," he said.
"Most importantly, I think, is that they understand how their block is being performed. This procedure is done with ultrasound, is a regional block and must be performed by trained professionals."
Dann Byck, an orthopedic surgeon at Utah Orthopaedics in Ogden, said the use of ultrasound to pinpoint the needle's location is what has really advanced the technique.
He also said his office is looking into an Ivivi-pulsed electronic field device to reduce pain and swelling in injuries and after surgeries.
"There are Ivivi studies in women who have had breast reconstructions who typically need to be hospitalized for three days," Byck said.
"After using this device, the patients noted a 50 percent reduction in pain and their swelling control improved to the extent they were able to leave the hospital in two versus three days. Very remarkable."
Byck said his office will conduct shoulder studies all over the country and will be looking at post-operative pain and range of motion.
"I'm very excited, as this may be a big change in the way we treat pain and post-operative patients who need to heal certain repairs before they can return to normal activities."