Purpose of review: The use of ultrasound for peripheral nerve blockade is becoming popular. Although the feasibility of ultrasound-guided nerve blockade is now clear, it is uncertain at this time whether it represents the new standard for regional anesthesia in terms of efficacy and safety.
Recent findings: The ability to visualize nerve location, needle advancement, needle-nerve interaction, and local anesthetic spread makes ultrasound-guided nerve block an attractive option. Study results indicate that these advantages can improve the ease of block performance, block success rates, and complications. At the same time there is evidence that ultrasound-guided regional anesthesia is a unique skill in its own right, and that proficiency in it requires training and experience.
Summary: Ultrasound is a valuable tool that is now available to the regional anesthesiologist, and it is fast becoming a standard part of practice. It promises to be of especial value to the less experienced practitioner. Ultrasound does not in itself, however, guarantee the efficacy and safety of peripheral nerve blockade. Proper training in its use is required and we can expect to see the development of formal standards and guidelines in this regard.