New course teaches innovative techniques for pain management downrange
October 14, 2010
FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas -- New and innovative techniques using ultrasound for pain management were recently introduced in the Army Medical Department Center & School's first "Ultrasound Guided Nerve Block Course for Anesthesia Providers," offered through the U.S. Army Graduate Program in Anesthesia Nursing last month.
Among many professionals, ultrasound use for regional anesthesia is anticipated to become the standard of care.
"New studies in research support the use of regional nerve blocks in theater to decrease Soldiers' pain medicine requirements postoperatively and in the recovery period," said John Gasko, an assistant professor with USAGPAN. Gasko was one of several instructors for the course.
"Anesthesia providers agree that direct visualization of internal structures may lead to safer, quicker and more successful blocks," said Lt. Col. Joseph O'Sullivan, program director for USAGPAN.
The course focused on the principles of the ultrasound machine and upper and lower extremity anatomy and blocks.
Participants from various Army and Air Force medical treatment facilities performed blocks on cadavers supplied by the graduate program during the course.
A follow-on discussion session gave providers an opportunity to share experiences and anecdotal input. Topics included increased effectiveness and decreased incidence of complications associated with ultrasound guided regional anesthesia.
"The primary goal of this course was to ensure that the anesthesia providers who deploy the most have the skill sets necessary to provide the best care for Soldiers downrange," Gasko said.
"It provided a good basis of skills and techniques for those of us who aren't familiar with ultrasound," said Maj. Michelle Evanov, USAGPAN Phase II program director with Madigan Army Medical Center in Seattle, Wash., who attended the course.
"All involved were able to augment their knowledge of ultrasound, anatomy and technical skills. Opportunities like this provide an immeasurable impact on the military's mission and providing world class healthcare," said Air Force Maj. Rob Frohm, an anesthesiologist at Wilford Hall Medical Center, Lackland Air Force Base, who also attended the course.
"Participants have enrolled as far away as Honolulu [Hawaii] and most are from our major Army Medical Centers. We continue to use the team approach in caring for the Soldiers, Families and retired members of our armed services," O'Sullivan said, adding that faculty felt it so important they volunteered their time to instruct.
"This is for the Soldiers," Gasko said.
The course will provide 14 continuing education credits for professional certification and is planned to be offered annually.