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Everything You Need to Know About Local and Regional Anesthesia

Written by
Dr. Divya Banu M
and medically reviewed by Dr. Amandeep Singh Sachdeva

Published on Nov 22, 2019 and last reviewed on Nov 23, 2019   -  3 min read

Abstract

Abstract

Local and regional anesthesia is the use of drugs to numb a specific part of the body to perform medical procedures or surgeries. Read the article to know its uses, advantages, and limitations.

What Are Local and Regional Anesthesias?

Anesthesia is given to avoid pain during any surgical procedure. There are many methods of giving it. When only a certain area of the body has to be anesthetized, local or regional anesthesia is given. In this, the anesthetic agent is administered near the branch or trunk of the nerve. They are safer and better than general anesthesia and can mostly be performed chairside and leads to a reduction in pain and stress. These methods can be further categorized into topical (local), infiltration, regional peripheral nerve blocks, neuraxial anesthesia, like spinal or epidural.

To define them separately, local anesthesia numbs a little portion of the body like during dental procedures, or skin, whereas, regional anesthesia helps in anesthetizing a much larger part of the body like the limbs, but not the whole body or systems.

Where Can These Be Used?

Local anesthesia can be considered when a minor surgery has to be performed, short-duration procedures, and when there is no need for muscle relaxation or the patient being unconscious for the procedure, like dental procedures, verruca removal, cataract surgeries, biopsies, etc. The use of regional anesthesia with the help of local anesthetics is aimed at orthopedic surgery, cesarean or any other gynecological procedures and also, bladder and urinary tract operation.

How Useful Is It?

The advantages include less anesthetic time, faster recovery, less postoperative complications like nausea, vomiting, fewer materials, no airway impairment, controlling of the duration, etc. Also, it is important to note that the patient is not allergic to the anesthetic agent or the components added in it, and a detailed medical history must be taken prior to administrating it.

Can It Cause Any Harm?

Some of the disadvantages include medical emergency, temporary paresthesia after anesthesia, hematoma formation, etc., and in case of regional anesthesia it can also include headache, radiating pain, difficulty in micturition, etc., based on the location or nerve anesthetized.

How Is It Done?

The patient is usually explained in detail about the procedure before carrying out. Atopical spray is used in the area of needle penetration and then the needle is penetrated for delivering anesthetic agents. It is very important to note that the anesthetic agent is not injected within the vascular system (bloodstream) as it can lead to toxicity. Hence, after reaching the required depth and location, aspiration is done. Once the aspiration is negative, the anesthetic drug is delivered as required.

Post that, the patient is asked for symptoms and the doctor checks the signs of numbness. The patient will not have pain but have a feeling of swelling in that area. It is to be noted that, the pressure sensation is the last one to go away after delivering local anesthesia and hence, the pressure is felt by the patient.

How Long Does the Effect Stay?

Usually, the effect stays for a minimum of two hours and ranging to 8 to 12 hours, depending on the type of anesthetic used based on the type of procedure to be carried out. While recovering, the patient may have a tingling sensation.

What Should I Do and Not Do?

The instructions after the procedure are very important and hence, the doctor’s instructions should be followed. Playing with that area or disturbing the area with fingers, pinching it, etc should be avoided as it may cause injury and you may not be aware of it as the area does not have sensation.

It has to be noted that dental procedures use local anesthesia most of the time, but in some cases, a few procedures are carried out under general anesthesia like major jaw surgeries (orthognathic, tumors, multiple dental treatments in a non-cooperative child (can be done in one sitting through general anesthesia), etc. Hence, it is advisable to give a proper medical history, present complaint, and other required history and complaints to the doctor completely to aid the doctor in choosing the type of anesthetic method and agent suitable for you

Local and regional anesthesia are very simple procedures but also very delicate. Hence, patients must not hide bout the medical history or condition from the doctor as it can influence the whole procedure and can cause complications also, like thyroid, hypertensive, diabetic, allergic patients, etc. With the help of online medical platforms, it has become easy to have a consultation with a specialist as and when you want regarding any medical query. Therefore, ask an expert to know further details about the same using these platforms.

Last reviewed at:
23 Nov 2019  -  3 min read

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