Simulation of spinal nerve blocks for training anesthesiology residents

Daniel J. Blezek, Richard A. Robb, Jon J. Camp, Lee A. Nauss, David P. Martin

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Deep nerve regional anesthesiology procedures, such as the celiac plexus block, are challenging to learn. The current training process primarily involves studying anatomy and practicing needle insertion in cadavers. Unfortunately, the training often continues on the first few patients subjected to the care of the new resident. To augment the training, we have developed a virtual reality surgical simulation designed to provide an immersive environment in which an understanding of the complex 3D relationships among the anatomic structures involved can be obtained and the mechanics of the celiac block procedure practiced under realistic conditions. Study of the relevant anatomy is provided by interactive 3D visualization of patient specific data and the practice simulated using a head mounted display, a 6 degree of freedom tracker, and a haptic feedback device simulating the needle insertion. By training in a controlled environment, the resident may practice procedures repeatedly without the risks associated with actual patient procedures, and may become more adept and confident in the ability to perform nerve blocks. The resident may select a variety of different nerve block procedures to practice, and may place the virtual patient in any desired position and orientation. The preliminary anatomic models used in the simulation have been computed from the Visible Human Male; however, patient specific models may be generated from patient image data, allowing the physician to evaluate, plan, and practice difficult blocks and/or understand variations in anatomy before attempting the procedure on any specific patient.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)45-51
Number of pages7
JournalProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
StatePublished - Dec 1 1998
EventProceedings of Surgical-Assist Systems - San Jose, CA, United States
Duration: Jan 25 1998Jan 28 1998


  • Anesthesiology
  • Simulation
  • Training
  • Virtual reality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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