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Southern DHB Anaesthesia - Southland

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Local Anaesthesia

Following local anaesthesia, you are awake but the part of your body being operated on is numb.  Local anaesthesia is administered via an injection; it takes effect quickly and lasts a long time.  During the surgery you will be aware of touch and pressure, but not pain.  If this type of local is being used, it is common practice to be looked after only by the nursing staff and the surgeon, an anaesthetist does not need to be present.  The surgeon will generally administer the local anaesthesia.

This type of anaesthesia can also be given with a sedative through an IV line, which means you will just be drowsy and semi-alert. This type of procedure is called local anaesthetic with sedation.

Nerve Block
This type of local anaesthesia is achieved by injecting an anaesthetic that blocks nerve impulse transmission. It can involve one or more nerves that are associated with the area to be operated on. A nerve block is often done for hand surgery.

Epidural Block
An epidural block involves injection of local anaesthetic and pain medication into the epidural space, blocking the transmission of nerve impulses in the spinal cord. It usually involves insertion of a small tube (that stays in place in the back) that can allow regular small does of pain medication to be administered, depending on the amount of pain you are feeling. An epidural takes around 10-20 minutes to take effect and takes about the same amount of time to set up and be administered.
Sensation is decreased or lost (dependent on the amount administered) below the level of the block (usually around the mid stomach region). This should take effect on both sides of the body, but sometimes can be varied.
An epidural block may be used as the only anaesthetic given for an operation that is carried out below the level of the diaphragm, but a sedative can also be administered with it.
An epidural is commonly used for pain relief during labour and also for caesarian section.

Spinal Block 
This involves an injection of a local anaesthetic and pain relief.  A spinal block is a one-off injection, unlike an epidural which is used for regular/continuous administration. The injection is given directly into the cerebrospinal fluid and takes effect very quickly.  Patients have a risk of headache that may be related to a leakage of cerebrospinal fluid from the hole made by the injection.

This page was last updated at 10:06AM on June 6, 2019.