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Applying Ultrasound Imaging to Interscalene Brachial Plexus Block
  1. Vincent W.S. Chan, M.D.a
  1. From the Department of Anesthesia and Pain Management, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


Objective Previous studies have examined ultrasound-assisted brachial plexus blocks, but few have applied this imaging technology to the interscalene region. We report a case of interscalene brachial plexus block using ultrasound guidance to show the clinical usefulness of this technology.

Case Report A nerve stimulator-guided interscalene block was attempted for arthroscopic shoulder surgery but failed. Subsequent nerve localization was accomplished by ultrasound imaging using a high-frequency probe (5-12 MHz) and the Philips ATL HDI 5000 unit. Ultrasound showed nerves between the scalene muscles, block needle movement at the time of advancement, and local anesthetic spread during injection. Interscalene block was successful after 1 attempt of nerve localization and needle placement.

Conclusions Advanced ultrasound technology is useful for nerve localization and can generate brachial plexus images of high resolution in the interscalene groove, guide block needle placement and advancement in real time to targeted nerves, and assess adequacy of local anesthetic spread at the time of injection. Ultrasound imaging guidance can potentially improve success during interscalene brachial plexus block.

  • Ultrasound
  • Interscalene
  • Brachial plexus block

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