Regional anesthesia makes an area of the body numb to prevent the patient from feeling pain during or after a medical procedure. It can completely block sensation to a large area of the body. Regional anesthesia does not put a patient to sleep, but it is commonly used along with sedation. It may also be used with general anesthesia.
Patient Care and Safety
The type and amount of anesthesia used depends on the patient’s need. An anesthesia provider will consider the patient’s health, medication use, allergies, medical history and past use of anesthesia to decide what is best for the patient.
Delivering Regional Anesthesia
Regional anesthesia can be injected into the area around one or more nerves in the arms, hands, legs and feet to numb all or parts of these extremities. A catheter can be inserted to provide anesthesia to a limb for a long period of time. If the surgeon needs to numb the lower abdomen, groin or legs, regional anesthesia can also be delivered through a catheter placed near the nerve roots of the spine.
Controlling Pain After Surgery
Regional anesthesia can be used to control pain for hours or days after a surgical procedure. Commonly, regional anesthesia for postsurgical pain is given to the patient through a catheter. The patient can control the dose.
The numbing effect may last for several hours after a surgical procedure, depending on the type and amount of anesthesia used. Because regional anesthesia is commonly used with sedation during surgery, some side effects are common. Patients may feel sleepy and confused. They may shiver or feel nauseous and vomit. Some patients have dry mouth or a sore throat. These symptoms usually go away quickly.