University of Miami is First to Use New Epidural Device for Pain Management

University of Miami physicians are the first in the United States to offer patients pain relief using a new epidural infusion device recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Historically, anesthesiologists relied on manually feeling a change in pressure to indicate a needle had been advanced into the epidural space of the spine before delivering regional analgesia. This new instrument makes it easier to verify correct placement of the epidural injection, said Ralf E. Gebhard, M.D., chief of the Division of Regional Anesthesia and Acute Perioperative Pain Management, and professor of clinical anesthesiology, at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

“This new technology adds objectivity to this procedure. Pressure at the needle tip is displayed both graphically and numerically,” Gebhard said. Once the device detects a lower pressure plateau, “it’s an objective indication you’re in the epidural space.”

The device could help standardize administration of epidural pain relief to women in labor, people living with chronic pain, and other patients where regional epidural analgesia is indicated. Importantly, the technology also contributes to quality control, Gebhard said; the readout on the instrument can be documented in the patient chart or uploaded into an electronic medical record.

The manufacturer of the CompuFlo Epidural Instrument, Milestone Scientific, provided the device first to University of Miami physicians because Gebhard participated in an early pilot study. Gebhard also acted as a scientific advisor on subsequent multicenter research in more than 400 patients that was required by the FDA for marketing approval.

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