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Ultrasound to Replace Opioids – Regional Anesthesia

Wayne Moore


I attended the recent 47th Annual Regional Anesthesiology and Acute Pain Medicine Meeting in Las Vegas. I had no booth duty obligations, so I took the opportunity to sit in on multiple clinical presentations.

The presentations on managing patients experiencing acute pain were very eye-opening for me, as they dealt with the problems surrounding using opioids, and there are many. Ultrasound imaging is used as the main tool for needle guidance in the administration of regional anesthesiology: The myriad of opioid problems had me wondering if diagnostic ultrasound could potentially be utilized as a non-narcotic anesthesia.

Ultrasound is used for a number of newer clinical applications, such as sonoporation (which refers to the formation of small pores in cell membranes by using ultrasound for the transfer of therapeutic agents), and magnetic resonance-guided focused ultrasound (MRgFUS), an emerging technology that can accurately and transiently permeabilize the blood-brain barrier (BBB) for targeted drug delivery to the central nervous system.

One very exciting use of ultrasound for treatment studied by GE researchers related to Type 2 diabetes (a noninvasive stimulation technique with ultrasound technology in three preclinical model systems that proved to improve glucose tolerance and insulin resistance) was announced on April 1. One of the researchers said, “The use of ultrasound could be a game-changer in how bioelectronic medicines are used and applied to disease, such as Type 2 diabetes, in the future.” This study may certainly pave the way for more potential uses of ultrasound in the central and peripheral nervous system in lieu of, or at least as an option to, pharmaceutical pain management.

I really love ultrasound.

Until next month,


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April 12, 2022 Newsletter