Comparison of Analgesic Outcomes Following Sciatic Nerve Blockade Performed by Resident Trainees and Nurse Anesthetists
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Background and objectives: Peripheral nerve blockade requires regional anesthesia skills that are taught in several formats and assessing technical proficiency has shifted from fulfillment of quotas to comprehensive procedural evaluation. Complete analgesia is the clinical endpoint validating successful nerve blockade but patient, technical and procedural factors influence this result. The purpose of this study was to determine if physician trainee or nurse anesthetist administered sciatic nerve blockade influence postoperative pain scores and opioid analgesic requirements and if patient factors, technique and repetition influence this outcome. Method: Sciatic nerve blockade by nerve stimulation and ultrasound based techniques were performed by senior anesthesiology resident trainees and nurse anesthetists under the supervision of regional anesthesia faculty. Preoperative patient characteristics including obesity, trauma, chronic pain, opioid use and preoperative pain scores were recorded and compared to the post-procedure pain scores and opioid analgesic requirements upon discharge from the post-anesthesia care unit and 24 hours following sciatic nerve blockade. Results: 93 patients received sciatic nerve blockade from 22 nurse anesthetists and 21 residents during 36 months. A significant relation between training background and improved pain scores was not demonstrated but transition from nerve stimulation to ultrasound guided techniques lowered immediate opioid usage in all groups. Patients with pre-existing chronic opioid use had higher postoperative pain scores and opioid dosages following nerve block. Conclusion: Patient analgesia should be an integral measure of proficiency in regional anesthesia techniques and evaluating this procedure outcome for all practitioners throughout their training and beyond graduation will longitudinally assess technical expertise.