PURPOSE: The purpose of this narrative review is to describe an anatomical approach for residents-in-training and anesthesiologists who are learning techniques of ultrasound-guided regional anesthesia of the neck and upper limb SOURCES: Relevant articles relating anatomy and anatomical variation to the emerging practice of ultrasound-guided regional anesthesia for the neck and upper limb were sourced via both Medline and PubMed databases. Also, our approach to teaching ultrasound technique has developed from using anatomical resources and cadaveric workshops. This approach emphasizes precise image acquisition, a detailed knowledge of anatomy and anatomical variations, and, importantly, visual interpretation of sonographic landmarks based on pattern recognition when interpreting sonograms. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Typical sonographic patterns orient the examiner to nerve position, which is necessary for executing successful regional anesthesia of the neck and upper limb. Only by understanding the typical anatomical arrangement can the examiner then visually interpret any individual anatomical variation that may occur. CONCLUSION: Simple sonographic anatomical patterns can provide a strategy to correctly locate nerves when performing ultrasound-guided cervical and brachial plexus anesthesia.