The Forces Associated with Bolus Injection and Continuous Infusion Techniques during Ultrasound-Targeted Nerve Contact: An Ex Vivo Study

Ashraf Agweder (Lead / Corresponding author), Youheng Zeng, Jiatao Liu, Graeme McLeod, Zhihong Huang

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Ultrasound-guided regional anaesthesia with real-time visualization of anatomical structures and needle trajectory has become the standard method for accurately achieving nerve block procedures. Nevertheless, ultrasound is particularly limited in accurately detecting the needle tip in tissues with complex echogenicity. Fat-filled circumneural fascial tissue provides a barrier to local anaesthetic diffusion. Injection during gentle needle nerve contact is more likely to spread under the circumneurium (halo sign). On the other hand, excessive force may cause hematoma or activate the piezo ion channels and intraneural calcium release. Therefore, it is vital to understand the mechanics of needle–tissue interaction for optimizing the procedural outcomes and patients’ safety. We hypothesised that continuous fluid infusion would reduce the needle force applied on the nerve compared to that of bolus injection. Thus, the primary objective of this study was to compare the forces associated with the bolus injection and continuous infusion techniques on the sciatic nerves of fresh lamb legs ex vivo. A needle combining pressure and force was inserted into six legs of lambs ex vivo using a motor stage at a constant velocity and imaged with a linear transducer. Saline injections were block randomised to bolus injection or infusion in the muscle upon gently touching and indenting of the epineurium at nine sites on six sciatic nerves at three angles (30°, 45° and 60°) in each location. The bolus was delivered over 6 s and infused for over 60 s. The result showed less force was generated during the infusion technique when gently touching the epineurium than that of the bolus technique, with p = 0.004, with significant differences observed at a 60° angle (0.49 N, p = 0.001). The injection pressure was also lower when light epineurium touches were applied (9.6 kPa, p = 0.02) and at 60° (8.9 kPa). The time to peak pressure varied across the insertion angles (p < 0.001), with the shortest time at 60° (6.53 s). This study explores future applications by emphasizing the significance of understanding needle–tissue interaction mechanics. This understanding is crucial for optimizing the procedural outcomes and enhancing patients’ safety in ultrasound-guided regional anaesthesia administration. Specifically, continuous infusion demonstrated a notable reduction in needle force compared to that of the bolus injection, especially during gentle epineurium contact.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2673
Number of pages12
JournalApplied Sciences
Issue number7
Early online date22 Mar 2024
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2024


  • force
  • pressure
  • regional anaesthesia
  • ultrasound

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • Instrumentation
  • General Engineering
  • Process Chemistry and Technology
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes


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