Here is a rough idea of what you need to get started:
- An ultrasound machine. We recommend that you try different machines prior to a purchase. Regional anesthesiologists do not need all of the bells and whistles. In general, the simple user interfaces are the easiest to learn on. Machines should have image storage capabilities and color flow Doppler.
- Transducers: We prefer to have a linear transducer of between 30-38 mm in length. Scanning frequencies should be greater than 8 MHz. We also like small linear transducers such as the "hockey stick" for small parts such as wrist and ankle blocks. We also have a curved transducer that has a frequency between 3-5 MHz. This allows deep penetration for blocks such as gluteal sciatic, psoas block, and epidural/spinal guidance.
- We use sterile sheaths to cover our transducer for block performance. Other options include sterile tegaderms or a sterile glove placed over the transducer.
- We use a mechanical transducer stabilizing device designed to free up one hand of the provider. This device was created here at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center as part of a collaboration between the Dartmouth Engineering school and The Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth. This device provides image stability and allows continuous imaging even during catheter threading. These blocks are now truly a one person procedure.
- In the movie to below, the UltraStand allows continuous imaging during an IS catheter placement. This allowed us to visualize the catheter meeting resistance within the scalene muscle. We changed the position of the bevel and the catheter threaded easily. Normally, the operator would have had to put the transducer down to thread the catheter.