Principles of safety for ultrasound-guided single injection blocks in the emergency department

Published:March 27, 2019DOI:


      Ultrasound-guided nerve blocks (UGNBs) allow emergency physicians an opportunity to provide optimal pain management for acute traumatic conditions. Over the past decade, a growing body of literature has detailed the novel ways clinicians have incorporated UGNBs for analgesia and an alternative to procedural sedation. UGNBs are considered a relatively safe procedure, and have been shown to increase rates of success and reduce complications (as compared to older techniques). Ultrasound allows the operator needle visualization and a clear anatomic overview. Even with the presumed level of increased safety, we recommend that any clinician who performs ultrasound-guided nerve blocks be aware of complications that could arise during and after the procedure. Peripheral nerve injury (PNI) post block, local anesthetic systemic toxicity (LAST) and the role of single peripheral nerve blocks in patients with a risk for compartment syndrome are common safety issues discussed when performing ultrasound-guided nerve blocks.
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