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Regional Anesthesia

Regional anesthesia is a technique that anesthetizes a specific area of the body. This is in contrast to general anesthesia, where a patient is medically brought to a state of unconsciousness to anesthetize the whole body.

In the technique, known as a nerve block, local anesthetics are applied to a targeted set of nerves to block sensation and movement. Patients feel no pain or discomfort in the targeted area, and they may choose to remain fully conscious or to receive mild sedatives to lessen anxiety and feel more comfortable.

Benefits of regional anesthesia for orthopedic surgery

At HSS, most orthopedic procedures except for spine surgery are performed under regional anesthesia. This has many benefits:

  • Typically, less medication is used in regional anesthesia.
  • Patients continue to breathe on their own and do not require assistance from a ventilator.
  • Patients commonly wake up from sedation quicker and feel less residual effects of anesthetics.
  • Some types of nerve block provide pain relief well after the surgery is over. This can reduce the need for opioids pain medications.
  • In certain types of surgery patients experience reduced stress response, less blood loss, and lower incidence of developing blood clots after the operation.

In the below video, Assistant Attending Anesthesiologist Carrie R. Guheen, MD, explains regional anesthesia. This is part of the video series, Anesthesia Frequently Asked Questions.


Nerve block techniques

Learn more about the different types of nerve blocks used in regional anesthesia.

Regional Anesthesia Success Stories

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