New Technique To Stop Pain In Ortho Patients

Armen Hareyan's picture

Pain In Ortho Patients

Anesthesiologists at The Ohio State University Medical Center are utilizing a new ultrasound procedure to anesthetize certain nerves and provide pain relief to patients before, during and even after orthopedic surgery.

"Our goal is to reduce and, in many cases, eliminate post-operative pain using these techniques," says Dr. Fernando Arbona, an anesthesiologist at Ohio State's Medical Center.


Physicians at Ohio State are utilizing ultrasound to help guide a needle to key nerves that are then numbed for surgical procedures in the arms, knees, shoulders or hips. These areas can be anesthetized before and after surgery, and patients can remain pain-free for more than 24 hours, in most cases. A small catheter inserted next to the nerves can infuse numbing medicine for up to three days following surgery.

In the past, anesthesiologists used a needle that sent small electric currents to locate the nerves. This technique sometimes required more needle passes, resulting in more discomfort for the patient.

"By using the ultrasound, we are actually able to see the nerves and guide the needle toward them, improving our success rate to nearly 100 percent," says Dr. Babak Khabiri, also an anesthesiologist at OSU Medical Center.

Using the ultrasound-guided method makes it possible to direct numbing medication, as well as catheters, with more precision around the nerves. The ultrasound technique eliminates or reduces the use of narcotics, which can have adverse side effects. In addition, patients are able to participate in physical rehabilitation sooner, because they are not limited by pain.

The use of ultrasound to locate and anesthetize nerves has been developed over the past several years, and Ohio State physicians are among a handful of institutions in the country to adapt the technology for surgery.