Ultrasound Guided Nerve Blocks Reducing Opioid Usage

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Ultrasound Guided Nerve Blocks Reducing Opioid Usage

In a world where opioid overdoses are becoming more and more common, doctors are looking for alternative methods to help patients that are experiencing acute pain. Recently, doctors have been using Ultrasound-Guided Nerve Block to ease the pain that is typically controlled by opioids. It has been found that relieving patients’ pain using ultrasound can drastically reduce the number of opioids that are being prescribed.

Using Ultrasound-Guided Nerve Block presents an opportunity to make a substantial difference in the healthcare industry by combating the opioid epidemic in the United States. Sixty percent of drug overdoses are due to opioid drugs. Each day 46 people die from an overdose of prescription painkillers. With the increase in opioid prescriptions came an increase in Heroin usage and death due to overdose when patients could no longer obtain the opioids that they became addicted to.

Peripheral nerve blocks provide adequate anesthesia during and after painful procedures such as hip replacements. This technique can be performed in the emergency department with the aid of ultrasound imaging to target nerves.  Ultrasound-Guided Nerve Block is an extremely useful technique that can be implemented into the care for acutely injured patients in many healthcare facilities as a way for clinicians to relieve pain and reduce the overreliance on opioids.

The new tool for battling the opioid epidemic has been tested in hospitals, like St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center’s emergency department. Along with Ultrasound-Guided Nerve Block, St. Joseph’s is using tools like laughing gas and acupuncture as alternatives before prescribing opioids. During the first two months of the program, 75 percent of patients left without needing opioids.

Dr. Jeanmarie Perrone, a professor of emergency medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, admits that the new method goes against the established culture amongst many physicians and may lead to more negative reviews from patients about pain management. She believes that it’s a “balancing act.” In an NPR article, she said “This is the art of medicine. This is the appropriate use of our judgment.” But, the discovery of alternative options does not mean that opioids shouldn’t be an option. In the same article, John Markman, a neurologist at the University of Rochester who specializes in pain management said, “The point here is not to be for or against opioids any more than it makes sense to be for or against antibiotics.”

If your facility is looking for another pain management option, consider purchasing an ultrasound system and probe that can perform Ultrasound-Guided Nerve Blocks. Click here to see the GE Logiq E ultrasound system and here to see the GE 12L-rs ultrasound probe. Probo Medical is powered in partnership with MedCorp LLC, who specializes in new and refurbished ultrasound systems.