About Regional Anesthesia

Regional anesthesia is often an anesthesia option for a variety of surgical procedures or childbirth.

Unlike general anesthesia, regional anesthesia does not produce a loss of consciousness, but it may leave the patient with little or no memory of the surgical procedure. The anesthetist may administer sedatives or tranquilizers through the IV to help with fear or nervousness. Because regional anesthesia involves only a part of the body and does not induce unconsciousness, it may be the preferred anesthetic in patients with diseases or physical conditions that may be undesirably affected by general anesthesia.

There are several types of regional anesthesia. They include local anesthesia, Spinal, Edidural & Caudal Anesthesia, and Nerve Blocks.

Local Anesthesia The loss of pain sensation is produced by directly injecting the area to be treated. This is utilized primarily for minor surgery and stitches.

Spinal, Epidural and Caudal Anesthesia These three techniques are quite similar in the effect they produce. All involve the injection of a local anesthetic drug into the lower part of the back. Spinal anesthesia involves placement of the anesthetic into the fluid surrounding the spinal cord. Epidural and caudal anesthesia involves injection of the anesthetic in the space just outside the spinal canal where the nerves leave the spinal cord. These anesthetics are most commonly used in obstetrics and surgical procedures of the lower abdomen and lower extremities.

Nerve Blocks This technique involves the administration of anesthetic agents in the area of single nerves or groups of nerves to numb the extremities or other parts of the body. To make the administration of this “block” less painful, the anesthetist desensitizes the overlying skin with a local anesthetic. A sedative or analgesic (pain killer) may also be given.