Teaching ultrasound-guided regional anesthesia remotely: a feasibility study

Acta Anaesthesiol Scand. 2016 Aug;60(7):995-1002. doi: 10.1111/aas.12695. Epub 2016 Feb 9.


Background: Ultrasound-guided regional anesthesia (UGRA) requires acquisition of new skills. Learning requires one-on-one teaching, and can be limited by time and mentor availability. We investigate whether the skills required for UGRA can be developed and subsequently assessed remotely using a novel online teaching platform. This platform was developed at the University of Toronto to teach laparoscopic surgery remotely and has been termed Telesimulation.

Methods: Anesthesia Site Chiefs at 10 hospitals across Ontario were sent a letter inviting their anesthesia teams to participate in an UGRA remote training program. Four to five anesthetists from each site were recruited from the first four hospitals expressing interest. Simulation models and ultrasound machines were set up at each location and connected via Skype(™) and web cameras with the Telesimulation center at our hospital. Training consisted of four online sessions and one offline lecture in order to teach an ultrasound-guided supraclavicular block. Participants were evaluated before and after training by on-site and off-site assessors using a validated Checklist and Global Rating Scale (GRS).

Results: Nineteen staff anesthetists were recruited. Post-training scores were significantly higher across both assessment tools, on-site (P < 0.001) and off-site training locations (P = 0.003). The inter-rater reliability between on-site and remote training site ratings was good for the Checklist (ICC = 0.672, 95% CI: 0.369-0.830) and excellent for the GRS (ICC = 0.847, 95% CI: 0.706-0.921).

Conclusion: This study demonstrates that UGRA can be taught remotely. Future research will focus on comparing this method to on-site teaching and its application in resource-restricted countries.

MeSH terms

  • Anesthesia, Conduction / methods*
  • Anesthesiology / education*
  • Anesthesiology / methods
  • Canada
  • Clinical Competence
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Humans
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Telecommunications*
  • Ultrasonography, Interventional / methods*