Peripheral nerve blocks are a type of regional
anesthesia. The anesthetic is injected near a specific
nerve or bundle of nerves to block sensations of pain from a specific area of
Nerve blocks usually last longer than local anesthesia. They are most
commonly used for surgery on the arms and hands, the legs and feet, or the
Positioning of the needle during a nerve block may result in
touching the nerve to be blocked with the tip of the needle. When this occurs,
you may experience a sharp sensation like an electrical shock in the part of
the body supplied by the nerve. Be sure to let your anesthesiologist know if
you feel such a sensation.
Other medicines are often given with nerve blocks to make you
relaxed or sleepy (sedatives) or to reduce pain. These are usually given as a pill or through a vein
People are carefully watched during the procedure, because the
anesthetics used for regional nerve blocks may affect the
central nervous system, cardiovascular system, and
respiratory system (airway and lungs) and may affect blood pressure, breathing,
heartbeat, and other vital functions.
Nerve blocks may be most useful when the procedure:
Can be confined to a specific region of the body
that can be anesthetized with a nerve block.
Involves large surface
areas of the body where injection with a large volume of local anesthetic might
cause side effects that affect the whole body.
Involves an area of
the body where injection of a local anesthetic would cause distortions that
might cause problems with the surgery, such as the face.
done in a relatively short time. Nerve blocks may not last long enough for