What is regional anesthesia?

Regional anesthesia in children: Overview

Regional anesthesia uses medicines to block pain from an area of your child's body, such as an arm or a leg or the belly. It's used in many procedures. These include surgeries on the hand, foot, or groin area.

There are several types of regional anesthesia. They can be given near the spine, near a nerve, or in a vein.

Regional anesthesia can also help relieve pain after surgery. It can reduce your child's need for other pain medicine.

Serious side effects aren't common. But if nerve damage happens, it can cause long-term numbness, weakness, or pain.

What are the main types of regional anesthesia?

There are three main types. Peripheral nerve blocks use a shot to numb an area supplied by a group of nerves. Intravenous (I.V.) regional anesthesia may be used instead of a nerve block for some procedures. Epidural and spinal anesthesia block pain from an entire area using a shot near the spinal cord.

How can you care for your child after regional anesthesia?

  • Follow all instructions from your child's doctor about how to take care of the area that was numbed.
  • Make sure your child doesn't injure the area while it's still numb.
    • Remind them that if they move the area, to move it slowly and carefully.
    • Be careful with hot and cold. Since your child won't feel pain, it's easier for damage from heat or cold to happen.

How can you prepare for regional anesthesia?

You will get instructions to help you prepare. They'll tell you what to expect at the hospital, when to stop eating and drinking, and what medicines you can and can't take. If you feel nervous about anesthesia or your procedure, ask your doctor about ways to relax. Relaxation exercises may be one option.

What are the risks of regional anesthesia?

In very rare cases, nerve damage can cause long-term numbness, weakness, or pain. This may happen if a nerve gets injured during the procedure.

Other problems can include infection, swelling, and bruising at the injection site. Regional anesthesia can also cause rare and more serious problems, such as heart and breathing problems.

The most common problem from spinal anesthesia is a headache. It's caused by leaking of the fluid that surrounds the spinal cord.

What is regional anesthesia for children?

Regional anesthesia is the use of medicine to block pain from an area of the body, like an arm or a leg or the belly. It's used with medicines to relax your child or make your child fall asleep during a procedure.

Regional anesthesia: When to call

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You have trouble breathing.
  • You passed out (lost consciousness).

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have nausea or vomiting that gets worse or won't stop.
  • You have a fever.
  • You have a new or worse headache.
  • The medicine is not wearing off by the time the doctor said it should.
  • You have injured the numb area of your body.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You do not get better as expected.

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