What is Regional Anaesthesia?
Regional anaesthesia aims to eliminate pain in the area to be operated on by injecting a drug with an anaesthetic effect (a local anaesthetic) near the corresponding nerve root.
This technique can be intradural, epidural or in an upper or lower extremity to make an area of the body (such as from the waist down, an arm, leg or hand) “fall asleep”.
How is it done?
Regional anaesthesia can be performed with a catheter or a single dose of anaesthetic.
During surgery, medication can be administered (if there are no contraindications) through the vein initially cannulated to reassure the patient and provide comfort during the operation.
It is not always possible to achieve complete regional anaesthesia so a general anaesthesia must be given in these cases.
Regional anaesthesia requires the same precautions as for general anaesthesia.
Complications of Regional Anaesthesia
Exceptionally, the anaesthetic can get into the blood or affect nerve structures and produce effects similar to general anaesthesia. This can be accompanied by serious complications such as arrhythmia, a drop in blood pressure or seizures. All these complications are diagnosed and treated by the anaesthesiologist responsible for the procedure.
There may also be minor complications, such as headache, back pain or tingling in the anaesthetised area that may not disappear till days later; or bruising in the area where the local anaesthesia was applied.
Urine retention may also occur. Exceptionally, prolonged nerve damage may occur.