A new needle tip tracking (NTT) technology was found to reduce procedure time and the number of hand movements for clinicians performing ultrasound-guided out-of-plane, but not in-plane, peripheral nerve block procedures, according to a study published in Anaesthesiologica Scandinavica.

The study examined the data from 40 anesthesiologists who performed in- and out-of-plane simulated nerve blocks with and without NTT guidance. The study’s primary outcome was procedure time. Secondary outcomes included hand movements and the path length traveled by the hands measured by motion analysis, precision of the needle tip related to the target structure, success rates and violations of the target structure, and physician’s confidence in the procedure’s estimated success.

NTT technology was found to reduce procedure time from 66.7 seconds to 43.8 seconds for out-of-plane procedures (P =.002), but not for in-plane procedures. For out-of-plane procedures, the use of NTT was found to reduce the number of hand movements from 22.8 to 13.9 (P =.019). There was no significant difference in the number of hand movements for in-plane procedures. In addition, the use vs lack of use of NTT was associated with an increase in clinicians’ confidence in a presumed block success for both in-plane (8.50±1.18 vs 7.65±1.96, respectively; P =.004) and out-of-plane procedures (8.50±1.09 vs 7.10±1.89, respectively; P =.0001).

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“Easier block performance and reduced procedure time in out-of-plane procedures support the use of NTT in clinical practice,” concluded the investigators.

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Kåsine T, Romundstad L, Rosseland LA, et al. Needle tip tracking for ultrasound-guided peripheral nerve block procedures—an observer blinded, randomised, controlled, crossover study on a phantom model. [published online April 30, 2019]. Acta Anaesthesiol Scan. doi:10.1111/aas.13379