Regional Anesthesia Explained

Understanding the Different Types of Anesthesia Given During Surgery

regional-epidural anesthesia
Epidural Anesthesia Image. Image: A.D.A.M @ About.com

Definition:

Regional anesthesia is a method of pain prevention for surgeries and procedures. Regional anesthesia is the opposite of general anesthesia, which works on the entire body--not just the surgery site-- and the patient sleeps through surgery. In regional anesthesia, only the area of the body that would feel pain is numbed, allowing the patient to have the procedure while awake.

One benefit of a regional anesthetic is the patient can be sedated or be fully conscious.

A C-section is an example of a procedure performed with the patient awake, with regional anesthesia (epidural) used to control the pain of the surgery. The patient can feel things above the abdomen, they are able to carry on a conversation and see their newborn immediately after their birth.

Regional anesthesia is provided by injecting specific sites with a numbing medication that works on the nerves of the body, causing numbness below the injection site. If you are having a hand surgery, your anesthesia may numb your entire arm and hand, the numbness may be mostly limited to your hand. 

Epidurals and other types of regional anesthesia are typically provided by a anesthesiologist or a nurse anesthetist (CRNA).

More About Anesthesia

Also Known As: epidural, block, regional block

Examples: During child birth an epidural, a type of regional anesthesia, is used to help control the pain a laboring mother feels.

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