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Regional Anesthesia

Overview

Regional anesthesia is the use of medicines to block pain from an area of the body such as an arm or a leg or the belly. It's a safe way to relieve pain during a procedure. It's often used with medicines to relax you or make you fall asleep.

It can also help relieve pain after surgery. And it may reduce your need for other pain medicine after surgery.

This type of anesthesia can be used for many procedures. These include hand or foot surgeries. It may also be used for total joint replacements of the knee, hip, or shoulder. It may also be used during childbirth.

Types of regional anesthesia

The main types are:

  • Peripheral nerve blocks. This is a shot near a specific nerve or group of nerves. It blocks pain in the part of the body supplied by the nerve. This is often used for procedures on the hands, arms, feet, legs, or face.
  • Epidural and spinal anesthesia. Medicine is given near the spinal cord and the nerves around it. It blocks pain from an entire area of the body. This may include the belly, hips, and legs.
  • Intravenous (IV) regional anesthesia. This is also called a Bier block. It may be used instead of a peripheral nerve block for some procedures, such as for hand or wrist surgery.

How to prepare

You will get a list of instructions to help you prepare. Your anesthesia specialist will let you know what to expect when you get to the hospital, during the surgery, and after.

You'll be told when to stop eating and drinking.

If you take medicine, you'll be told what you can and can't take before surgery.

You'll be asked to sign a consent form. The form says that you understand the risks of anesthesia. Before you sign, your specialist will talk with you. You'll discuss the best type for you. And you'll learn the risks and benefits of that type.

Many people are nervous before they have anesthesia and surgery. Ask your doctor about ways to relax before surgery. Relaxation exercises may be one option.

Related Information

Credits

Current as of: February 16, 2022

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
John M. Freedman MD - Anesthesiology
Heather Quinn MD - Family Medicine

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