Ultrasound-Guided Regional Anesthesia Simulation Training: A Systematic Review

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Background and Objectives

Ultrasound-guided regional anesthesia (UGRA) has become the criterion standard of regional anesthesia practice. Ultrasound-guided regional anesthesia teaching programs often use simulation, and guidelines have been published to help guide URGA education. This systematic review aimed to examine the effectiveness of simulation-based education for the acquisition and maintenance of competence in UGRA.


Studies identified in MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, and ERIC were included if they assessed simulation-based UGRA teaching with outcomes measured at Kirkpatrick level 2 (knowledge and skills), 3 (transfer of learning to the workplace), or 4 (patient outcomes). Two authors independently reviewed all identified references for eligibility, abstracted data, and appraised quality.


After screening 176 citations and 45 full-text articles, 12 studies were included. Simulation-enhanced training improved knowledge acquisition (Kirkpatrick level 2) when compared with nonsimulation training. Seven studies measuring skill acquisition (Kirkpatrick level 2) found that simulation-enhanced UGRA training was significantly more effective than alternative teaching methods or no intervention. One study measuring transfer of learning into the clinical setting (Kirkpatrick level 3) found no difference between simulation-enhanced UGRA training and non–simulation-based training. However, this study was discontinued early because of technical challenges. Two studies examined patient outcomes (Kirkpatrick level 4), and one of these found that simulation-based UGRA training improved patient outcomes compared with didactic teaching.


Ultrasound-guided regional anesthesia knowledge and skills significantly improved with simulation training. The acquired UGRA skills may be transferred to the clinical setting; however, further studies are required to confirm these changes translate to improved patient outcomes.

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