What is regional anesthesia?

Regional anesthesia provides comfort to a specific body area. Regional techniques can act on the central or peripheral nervous system. An example of a central regional technique is spinal anesthesia. Peripheral anesthesia can be used as a single injection or through a catheter. An example would be a catheter inserted below the clavicle (infraclavicular block) for upper arm, elbow, forearm, wrist or hand surgeries. An anesthesiologist can inject a short and/or longer acting anesthetic. The use of local anesthetics, such as Bupivacaine or Lidocaine, provides comfort during and after surgery. The type of anesthetic will depend upon the location of the surgery, injury, and need to monitor function of the affected extremity. Each situation must be evaluated individually and the decision to  use regional anesthesia will include discussion with the surgeon, anesthesiologist, and  the patient.

Regional anesthesia, which includes spinal anesthesia, epidural anesthesia and peripheral nerve blocks involving the arms or legs, eliminates pain following an injection of local anesthetic medication near large groups of nerves to temporarily block pain signals from reaching the brain. Regional anesthesia can be used for surgery on selected regions of the body, either alone or in combination with general anesthesia. If you need hip or prostate surgery, your anesthesiologist might determine that, in your particular case, epidural or spinal anesthesia may be preferable.

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