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Mayo Clinic Physicians Have Adapted Real-time 3-D Ultrasound Imaging Devices

Mayo Clinic physicians have adapted real-time 3-D ultrasound imaging devices -- including one designed to look at an infants heart -- so that they can watch as they use a needle filled with anesthetic to numb individual nerves located inches under the skin.

In this way, they can quickly block nerve function in selected areas of the body prior to surgery, an advance that may spare patients from use of general anesthesia and sends them home faster and with less need for pain medication.

Mayo anesthesiologists have demonstrated the benefits of real-time 3-D ultrasound in nerve blockade in more than 150 surgeries of varied types.

Their presentations at scientific meetings and publications in peer-reviewed journals have informed other physicians worldwide into how this next-era ultrasound imaging technology may assist in peripheral nerve block placement -- the technique of disabling targeted nerves so that a patient doesnt feel pain from surgery.

For example, their latest case study, reported in the July issue of Anesthesia & Analgesia, describes how they used 3-D ultrasound to find the sciatic nerve behind the thigh of a woman who needed major reconstructive surgery on her foot.

Using the imaging technique to help physicians place a catheter filled with local anesthetic next to the nerve, they numbed it to block pain signals from being transmitted to the brain of the patient, who was sedated.

When the brain doesnt know surgery is under way because the nerve is inactivated, it doesnt mount the kind of systematic pain response that keeps patients medicated and in their beds, says anesthesiologist Steven Clendenen, M.D., who helped develop use of the technique with Neil Feinglass, M.D., and other anesthesiologists at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville.

Now we can find the nerve we want in real-time 3-D, guide our needle right next to it, then watch as anesthesia is released and surround
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