Regional Anesthesia

Regional Anesthesia

Alternate Names

  • regional block
  • field block
  • nerve block
  • conduction anesthesia

Definition

Anesthesia means a loss of feeling or inability to feel pain. Regional anesthesia or block is a method of pain prevention in a specific part of the body, such as the hand.

Who is a candidate for the procedure?

Someone who needs a painful procedure in a part of the body that is served by a nerve or nerves that are reasonably accessible with a needle may be a candidate for a regional block.
A regional block is sometimes used for surgery in the hand or arm. It can also be used for procedures such as circumcision of the penis and corneal surgery. This type of pain control is not usually used for major operations.

How is the procedure performed?

In a regional block, medication is injected around a large nerve or nerves that are responsible for sensation at the site of the procedure. Regional blocks are usually done in an operating room.
Unlike local numbing, the medication is injected far away from the procedure site. Although regional blocks cause a larger area of the body to be numb than local anesthesia, the medication is of the same type.
The site of the procedure is first cleaned with an antibacterial cleanser. The local anesthesia is often injected deep into the skin or other surface. This is where the major nerves are usually located.
The medication may cause a stinging or burning sensation at first. This discomfort lasts for just a few seconds. It takes a few minutes for the medication to have its full effect. The person should be unable to feel pain in the area.
Unlike local anesthesia, regional blocks also paralyze the muscles in the area. A pressure sensation may be felt when the area is cut or poked with needles, but pain should be absent. If pain is felt, the person should tell the healthcare professional so that more medication can be given to control pain.
Sedative medications may be given before and during the procedure, usually through an intravenous line, or IV, which helps the person relax. It also reduces the pain of the initial injections. The numbing medication generally wears off within a few hours of the procedure.

Sources

Anesthesia, 1990, Miller et al.

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