MTSA faculty present research at European Society of Regional Anaesthesia Congress

Annual event focuses on breakthroughs in the field regional anesthesia and pain therapy

MTSA’s Acute Surgical Pain Management (ASPM) Fellowship Director and three ASPM Fellows submitted research studies that were accepted at the 37th Annual European Society of Regional Anaesthesia (ESRA) Congress held in Dublin, Ireland, in September – a first for the School.

Above photo: MTSA alumni John Edwards (left) and Stace Dollar (right) traveled to the 37th Annual European Society of Regional Anaesthesia (ESRA) Congress held in Dublin, Ireland, to present their pain management research study. Also pictured is their colleague and one of the study’s co-authors, Dr. Thomas Young.

The two separate studies conducted by Stace Dollar, MS, CRNA; John Edwards, MS, CRNA; Bill Johnson, DNAP, CRNA; and Kelly Martin, MS, CRNA, focused on new techniques and protocols that improve pain management for patients undergoing breast surgery.

Dollar and Edwards, both MTSA alumni, traveled to Dublin in connection with their research, Retrospective Comparison of Traditional and Enhanced Recovery After-Surgery Protocols Among Women Undergoing Mastectomy.

Johnson and Martin’s study, Retroclavicular Approach to the PECS (RAP) Block: A Novel Regional Technique for Breast Surgery, was also featured in the research package offered to ESRA Congress participants. Martin and Johnson also traveled to the event for the presentation.

All four presenters have ties to MTSA’s Acute Surgical Pain Management (ASPM) Fellowship; Johnson is director of the program, while Dollar, Edwards and Martin are part-time faculty.

“This is a major milestone for MTSA and the ASPM Fellowship,” Johnson said. “It shows that not only are we able to educate CRNAs, but we can help facilitate this type of cutting-edge research, which has enormous benefit to the anesthesia community around the world. There will be much more original research like this coming out of the Fellowship.”

According to Johnson, one of the key elements to advancing knowledge and producing quality research is MTSA’s Cadaveric Ultrasound-Guided Regional Anesthesia courses, in which CRNAs can try new techniques and increase their proficiency and efficacy.

“Our cadaveric courses give us a platform for Fellows to come back to Nashville and participate in some of these advanced techniques. The cadaveric models enable them to do the imaging, needling, distribution of local anesthetic, placement of catheters, and more. It’s about as high-fidelity as you can get in terms of educating and reproducing the results clinically,” Johnson said.

The ASPM Fellowship has provided a unique opportunity to grow professionally, according to Dollar. “John and I wouldn’t be where we are today had we not become involved with MTSA. It’s been a privilege to be part of the ASPM Fellowship. The Fellowship provides a big advantage for nurse anesthetists out in the field in rural areas, helping patients with their pain control and combatting the opioid crisis.”

Martin, who completed the Fellowship this year, was honored that his and Johnson’s study was accepted at the ESRA Congress and sees it as part of a larger effort: “The goal is to spark an interest in the anesthesia community that there’s a new pain management technique and see who might be able to start implementing it on patients, doing small case studies, and eventually taking it to larger trials. Many of the regional anesthesia providers that I admire and read were at the conference, so it was exciting to see their reaction and talk about the possibilities,” he said.

Edwards specifically chose the ESRA Congress to submit their abstract, due to its connection with several leading professionals in the field who are based in Europe. He said, “The block technique that we utilize in our project was actually developed by an anesthesiologist from Spain named Rafael Blanco, so I felt we learned that from him, he brought that to the forefront, and I wanted to present where many of these techniques have originated.”

According to Johnson, the Fellowship faculty members have plans to further develop their respective studies and submit them to multiple journals for review and potential publication, which will continue to grow the breadth and depth of scholarship being facilitated by MTSA.

“Having this research published and presented is an important step in advancing new approaches to acute pain management on a wide variety of patients. As we look at treatments and interventions for different types of surgeries, it will have a huge impact on patient care,” Johnson said.

Dollar and Edwards are CRNAs with Central Kentucky Anesthesia and practice at Baptist Health Lexington in Kentucky. Martin is a professor in the nurse anesthesia program at York College as well as full-time faculty member at Wellspan Health at York Hospital in Pennsylvania.

The annual ESRA Congress offers sessions and workshops led by world-renowned experts specializing in regional anesthesia and pain therapy. It aims to improve cooperative study to enable breakthroughs in the field.

More information on MTSA’s Acute Surgical Pain Management Fellowship and cadaveric workshops is available at

John Edwards provides instruction to attendees during a Cadaveric Ultrasound-Guided Regional Anesthesia Workshop at MTSA.

Bill Johnson (second from right) and Kelly Martin (right) demonstrate on a cadaveric specimen during an Ultrasound-Guided Regional Anesthesia Workshop at MTSA.

Bill Johnson, DNAP, CRNA, Director, Acute Surgical Pain Management Fellowship

For more on this story, read the October 2018 issue of Airways, MTSA’s alumni newsletter.

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