By: 5 October 2015
ESRA – A meeting of minds

ESRA – A meeting of minds

A review of the ESRA Congress 2015, which took place in Slovenia

The primary goal of ESRA is to teach regional anaesthesia and to make sure practitioners perform safe and effective procedures. This September the 34th annual meeting of the European Society of Regional Anaesthesia and Pain Medicine (ESRA) took place in Ljubljana, Slovenia. The congress is one of the largest regional anaesthesia meetings in the world, with more than 1350 anaesthetists attending. A broad spectrum of regional anaesthesia and pain medicine topics were addressed in over 150 sessions, where more than 100 international speakers shared their knowledge and expertise.

New innovations were introduced to the programme this year and controversial topics were debated in the pro/con debates, where the audience could vote live during the head-to-head discussions. Topics included: neuraxial blocks should be performed using ultrasound; the anti-inflammatory effects of local anaesthetics are of no major clinical relevance; perineural dexamethasone should always be used in a peripheral nerve block; and remifentanil should always be used at induction of general anaesthesia for C-section. Problem-based learning discussions started from actual clinical case scenarios and explored the various options available based on the input and experiences of the session audience. Speakers were heavily challenged in these sessions and this resulted in vigorous and very interesting sessions.

Refresher courses, symposia and ‘ask the expert’ sessions are a long-term feature of the ESRA Congress experience, with well-attended sessions that receive a lot of positive feedback.

ESRA has always offered meetings featuring hands-on workshops and this year saw a further increase, with more cadaver workshops, hands-on adult and paediatric workshops then ever before. Plus, half-day workshops were introduced to allow participants with little or no experience the opportunity to intensively learn and practice all the basic nerve blocks in one session.

Chronic pain management is becoming a more important feature of the meeting with many sessions dedicated to this topic, focusing more and more on the transition from acute to chronic pain and the mechanisms involved.

Finally, many young researchers took to the stage and presented their abstracts, competing for the best poster and best abstract prize – the quality of the work presented was incredibly high. In its 10th year, the European Diploma in Regional Anaesthesia (EDRA) examinations also took place in Ljubljana and this year more than 250 colleagues participated.


The ESRA 2016 Congress will be held from 7–10 September in Maastricht, The Netherlands, and will build on the success of this year’s memorable event. Visit for all the congress updates. ESRA also offers various workshops throughout the year, including a dedicated Winter week in Switzerland, Spring meeting in Portugal, and cadaver workshops in Austria. Visit for more information.