What Is The Role Of Ultrasound In Chronic Pain Management?
By Foead Geula, M.D.
Medical ultrasound technology uses sound waves to localize structures within the body. Conceptually, it is similar to sonar used by animals such as bats and dolphins. The ultrasound probe emits sound waves, which are reflected by various tissues in the body and registered by the device to create a live image on the monitor. With recent technological advances, image rendering can produce fine anatomical detail, enabling pain management doctors to localize structures such as nerves, muscles, and joints with exceptional clarity. The keen visualization obtained by ultrasound imagery allows the chronic pain management doctor to specifically target anatomical regions of interest.
Ultrasound-guided interventions for chronic pain management offer several advantages relative to more traditional techniques. One of the unique attributes of ultrasound guidance is the ability to provide “live” imagery without radiation exposure. Being able to continuously visualize important anatomical and vascular structures allows the pain management physician to perform interventions with great precision. In addition, ultrasound-guidance in chronic pain management allows for visualization of nerves, muscles, and other soft tissue, providing diagnostic and therapeutic opportunities that are not possible with more conventional techniques. Of note, ultrasound-guided pain management interventions have no radiation exposure.
The application of ultrasound in chronic pain management is expanding rapidly. It may be used in diagnosis and treatment for a variety of acute and chronic pain conditions, including neuropathy, low back pain, arthritis, musculoskeletal disorders, and reflex sympathetic dystrophy to only name a few. The continuing progress in medical ultrasound technology and the growing body of scientific literature relating to its efficacy and safety all but assure that this modality will hold a prominent position in the tools at the disposal of chronic pain management doctors.
Ultrasound guidance is on the cutting edge of medical treatments available for chronic pain management and Dr. Geula is happy to discuss this option with his patients and determine if it is appropriate for their condition. Having trained with pioneers and world experts in the field of ultrasound-guided interventions at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF), Dr. Geula is uniquely qualified to apply ultrasound guidance to chronic pain management. As an active member of the Ultrasonography in Pain Medicine Special Interest Group and the American Association of Pain Management in Ultrasound, Dr. Geula stays abreast of emerging trends in this highly specialized and innovative discipline within Chronic Pain Management.