A Low-Cost Facial and Dental Nerve Regional Anesthesia Task Trainer
This facial and dental regional anesthesia task trainer is designed for teaching emergency medicine (EM) residents and medical students; however, it can be used by other specialties including plastic surgery, otolaryngology, oral surgery, and dentistry.
While the opioid epidemic remains a public health crisis, emergency departments (EDs) continue to treat patients who require painful facial procedures or who present with severe dental pain. There is increasing interest and renewed use of regional anesthesia for procedural anesthesia and as an effective non-opioid analgesic. Although many nerve blocks are now being taught using ultrasound guidance, regional anesthesia of the face and mouth is still performed using landmark-based techniques. To date, there are no commercially available task trainers for teaching regional anesthesia of the face and mouth. Therefore, a low-cost, feedback-enhanced, partial task trainer was created for teaching regional anesthesia of the supra-orbital, infra-orbital, mental, and inferior alveolar nerves.
By the end of this educational session, learners should be able to: 1) describe and identify relevant anatomy for supra-orbital, infra-orbital, mental, and inferior alveolar nerves and 2) successfully demonstrate supra-orbital, infra-orbital, mental, and inferior alveolar nerve blocks using a partial task trainer.
Using inexpensive and commonly found materials, we were able to successfully modify an existing airway task trainer in order to create a feedback-enhanced partial task trainer for teaching supra-orbital, infra-orbital, mental, and inferior alveolar regional anesthesia. When the needle is inserted in the correct nerve location by the learner, the task trainer provides positive feedback in the form of an audible alert. This innovative task trainer has been used to teach post graduate year (PGY) 1-4 resident learners as part of a standard emergency medicine residency didactics curriculum. After a brief introductory didactic session, participants are given the opportunity for hands-on skills practice using the task trainer under faculty supervision.
An existing airway task trainer was successfully modified in order to create a feedback-enhanced, partial task trainer for teaching supra-orbital, infra-orbital, mental, and inferior alveolar regional anesthesia. Learners were asked to complete a post-session survey to assess the educational value of the station and the task trainer.
Twenty-one residents (10 PGY-1, 9 PGY-3, 2 PGY-4) participated in a didactic session and all completed a brief post-session survey. Many participants (N=10, 48%) had never previously performed any of these nerve blocks. On average, participants rated their comfort performing these specific nerve blocks before the session to be 1.96 on a 5-point Likert-scale (where 1=not at all comfortable and 5=extremely comfortable). Following the session, participants’ comfort level increased to 3.67 on the same scale. Participants rated the usefulness of the feedback-enhanced task trainer to be a 4.71 on a 5-point scale (where 1=not at all useful and 5=extremely useful).
Using inexpensive and commonly available materials, we were able to successfully modify an existing airway task trainer in order to create a feedback-enhanced partial task trainer for teaching regional anesthesia of the face and mouth. Learners reported that the educational session greatly increased their confidence in performing supra-orbital, infra-orbital, mental, and inferior alveolar nerve blocks. Additionally, they found the feedback-enhanced partial task trainer to be extremely helpful for teaching appropriate landmark identification. Our model was successfully used to teach facial and dental nerve block techniques which are able to provide both procedural anesthesia and non-opioid analgesia. Future studies could investigate whether this educational session and model leads to increased competence and/or increased performance of facial nerve blocks in the clinical setting.
Nerve blocks, regional anesthesia, dental emergencies, facial trauma.