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Info About Anesthesia

Regional Anesthesia

Regional anesthesia involves injecting local anesthetics through a needle, which the anesthesiologist places close to the nerve or nerves supplying the region of the body involved in the operation. The skin and tissues that the needle goes through are also numbed with local anesthetic so that there is minimal discomfort associated with placement of the needle. Local anesthetic drugs stop nerves from working temporarily, so that no sensation and/or movement in the area of the body supplied by the nerve(s) occurs. This type of anesthesia is also called a nerve block.

The most common type of regional anesthesia is spinal anesthesia. This can be used to anesthetize the abdomen and legs. Many other 'regions' of the body, such as an arm, can be safely and comfortably anesthetized. The effect of different local anesthetics lasts for different times, so the length of the anesthetic can be tailored to your operation. You may remain completely awake if you wish, but usually your anesthesiologist will administer a drug to make you relaxed and drowsy. At the end of the operation patients are transferred to the post anesthetic care unit awake, relaxed and pain free. They are usually very pleased with this type of anesthetic. At St. Paul's hospital most of our nerve blocks are performed with ultrasound guidance to allow us to visualize the nerves so that we can maximize both safety and performance of our technique.

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