Dr. Terry Li

Evaluating ultrasound-guided nerve injection for chronic knee pain: a cadaveric study

Chronic knee pain affects many people globally. Current treatments can be ineffective and/or very expensive. Ultrasound-guided nerve injection shows promise in alleviating this pain by delivering chemicals that kill nerves transmitting pain signals from the knee. However, ultrasound landmarks for these nerves and the spread of injected chemicals in tissue are not well understood.

To address this, we plan to find nerves of the knee joint in human cadavers using ultrasound-guided injection and dissection. We will preserve the cadavers using a method that maintains life-like tissue properties and allows the body to be imaged by ultrasound. We will inject a nerve-killing chemical mixed with a stain at five points around the knee, targeting nine different nerves. Then, the skin and muscles will be carefully cut open to reveal the areas stained by injections and nerves of the knee joint.

We aim to describe differences in the distribution of these nerves between people. We will evaluate the spread of the injected chemical in terms of its coverage over nerves and its leakage to surrounding structures. We’ll identify accurate injections that cover target  nerves, and we’ll determine which factors lead to inaccurate injections and potential leakage to neighboring structures.

The study's anticipated results will show how to use ultrasound on the nerves that transmit pain signals from the knee. We hope to demonstrate that ultrasound-guided nerve injections around the knee are effective and safe. This knowledge will encourage more physicians to use this treatment to relieve chronic knee pain for patients.